Guidelines for Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters

Guidelines for Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters




Developed by:

Benfield Hazard Research Centre,

University College London


CARE International

Version 4.2

December 2003

Prepared by:

Charles Kelly

Affiliate, Benfield Hazard Research Centre

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003




Developed by:

Benfield Hazard Research Centre,

University College London


CARE International

Funded by:

The Joint United Nations Environment Program/

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Office, Geneva,

Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID

Prepared by:

Charles Kelly

Affiliate, Benfield Hazard Research Centre

Version 4.2

December 2003

Version 4.2 incorporates changes made a following training

workshop on the Guidelines conducted in India in 2003.

Comments on the REA or this document should be sent to

Charles Kelly, at



Copyright © 2003 Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE). All rights reserved.

CARE grants permission to all not-for-profit organizations engaged in humanitarian activities to reproduce this

work, in whole or in part. The following notice shall appear conspicuously with any reproduction: “From Rapid

Environmental Impact Assessment in Disaster Response. Copyright © 2003 Cooperative for Assistance and

Relief Everywhere, Inc. (CARE). Used by Permission.”


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003


This document was prepared with the input, advice and suggestions of a number of persons

and cooperation of a number of organizations. Mario Pareja, John Twigg (Benfield Hazard

Research Centre) and Sigrid Nagoda (CARE Norge) were actively involved in the

development of the REA and in reviewing drafts. Patricia Charlebois provided critical

suggestions on REA Version 1.0, as well as overseeing the UNEP funding for the REA

development. Louise Sperling (CIAT) and Anshu Sharma (SEEDS) provided significant

suggestions on how to improve the REA process and presentation. Other REA Advisory

Board members include Walter Knausenberger, Becky Myton, Gaspard Bikwemu, Franklin J.

McDonald and Julio Galvez Tan. The development of the REA also profited from extensive

work by UNHCR on refugees and the environment, led by David Stone, and the

development of a UNHCR Handbook for Environmental Assessment by Ron Bisset. Debbie

Williams, formerly of Benfield Hazard Research Centre, provided input into early REA drafts.

Suggestions and comments on the REA were also received from staff at Action Aid, The

British Red Cross, CARE Norway, CARE US, Children’s Aid Direct, Church World Service,

Cooperative Housing Foundation, The UK Department for International Development,

ECHO, Interaction, The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,

Mercy Corps International, Nature Club, Organization of American States, Save the Children

US, The Sphere Project, The US Agency for International Development, VOICE, World

Vision, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The Afghanistan field test was conducted with the support of Sally Austin, Assistant Country

Director, Programme and Paul Barker, Country Director, and with the participation of Farida,

Sayed Abrar, Mohammad Alem, Feda Mohammad, Amir Mohammad, Waleen Hakim, Ab.

Jamil, and Dad Mohammad, all of CARE Afghanistan. The second field test was conducted

in Ethiopia with the support of CARE Ethiopia staff Samuel Tadesse, REA Counterpart,

Dereje Adugna, Disaster Officer, Holly Solberg, Program Coordinator, and personnel of the

Awash Conservation and Development Project. The third field test of the REA Guidelines

was conducted in Central Kalimantan Indonesia with the support and hard work of Johan

Kieft, Ujang Suparman (Assessment Team Leader), Medi Yusva, Muslim, Waliadi and

Aspian Nur of CARE Indonesia and Lilik S., Yokobeth S. and Dedy S. of Yayasan

Cakrawala Indonesia. Further post-field test comments and suggestions on the REA were

provided by Paul Thompson and Jeff Klenk of InterWorks. The Guidelines also benefited

from comments and suggestions provide by participants at REA training workshops in

Norway and Guatemala held during April 2003 and in India in November 2003.


1. Dead fish lie on the dry bottom of the Ding An reservoir on Hainan Island, China. Photo:


2. Results of Hurricane Georges in Dominican Republic 1988

3. Ashfall from Volcanoes-Montserrat.

4. Children in heavily littered Manila Bay, gathering litter in order to try to sell it. Photo:

Hartmut Schwarzbach. ©UNEP:


5. These scenes are from "Ibada-Elume spill-fire explosion. Spill lasted for several days

before fire erupted. Ibada-Elume, Okpe L.G.A, Delta State. (ERA Field report #73)"


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Use and Structure of the REA

The Guidelines for Rapid Environmental Impact in Disasters (REA)

provide a means to define and prioritize potential environmental impacts

in disaster situations. The Guidelines is composed of five main parts and

ten supporting Annexes. The main parts include an Introduction to the

REA, and modules on Organization and Community Level

Assessments, Consolidation and Analysis of assessment results and

Green Review of Relief Procurement. The Annexes include

information sources, forms used in the assessment and information

useful in managing the REA process.

Good planning and preparation are important to a rapid execution of the

REA. It is strongly recommended that the Guidelines Introduction be

fully reviewed before an assessment. At least the Organization Level

Assessment and Consolidation and Analysis modules should be

used in any disaster impact assessment, while completion of the

Community Level Assessment is strongly recommended. The Green

Review module can be used independently of the other modules.

The Guidelines for Rapid Environmental Impact in Disasters provides a

comprehensive description of the REA process together with

background information on key tasks needed to complete the

assessment. A separate Quick Guide to the REA process is also

available. The Quick Guide includes the rating forms and instructions

found in the Guidelines but only a minimal amount of additional

information on the REA process.

A Guidelines-based rapid environmental impact assessment can be

conducted as a stand-alone exercise or as part of, and using information

collected during, other standard disaster impact assessments. When

done as part of another type of assessment the REA process should not

result in any significant increase in workload in the field or during



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Executive Summary

The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disaster (REA) is a tool to identify, define,

and prioritize potential environmental impacts in disaster situations. A simple, consensus-based

qualitative assessment process, involving narratives and rating tables, is used to identify and

rank environmental issues and follow-up actions during a disaster. The REA is built around

conducting simple analysis of information in the following areas:

• The general context of the disaster.

• Disaster related factors which may have an immediate impact on the environment.

• Possible immediate environmental impacts of disaster agents.

• Unmet basic needs of disaster survivors that could lead to adverse impact on the


• Potential negative environmental consequences of relief operations.

The REA is designed for natural, technological or political disasters, and as a best practice tool

for effective disaster assessment and management. The REA does not replace an EIA, but fills a

gap until an EIA is appropriate. A REA can be use from shortly before a disaster up to 120 days

after a disaster begins, or for any major stage-change in an extended crisis.

The REA does not provide answers as to how to resolve environmental problems. It does provide

sufficient information to allow those responding to a disaster to formulate common sense

solutions to most issues identified. Where solutions are not evident, the REA provides sufficient

information to request technical assistance or to advocate action by a third party. The REA

contributes to activity and environmental M&E, but does not replace a formal M&E system.

The REA does not require expert knowledge. Primary REA users are people directly involved in

disaster response operations, with a basic knowledge of the disaster management process but

no background in environmental issues. The REA process can be used by disaster survivors with

appropriate support. The best results are expected to come when the REA is completed with

structured input from survivors and organizations providing relief assistance. Sections of the REA

can also be used for needs assessment and environmental impact screening during relief project

design and review.

REA development is a Benfield Hazard Research Centre-CARE International collaborative effort,

with financial assistance of the joint UNEP/OCHA office in Geneva, Royal Norwegian Ministry of

Foreign Affairs, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, USAID and CARE International.


Organization Level


Community Level


Consolidation and


Green Review of Relief



REA Modules and Outcomes

Identification of critical environmental issues related to the disaster from

the perspective of organizations providing relief and recovery


Identification of critical environmental issues related to the disaster from

the perspective of communities and groups affected by a disaster.

An identification and prioritization of environmentally-linked issues

involving significant immediate threat to lives, well being and the


A screening of the procurement of relief commodities and services to

minimize negative environmental impacts.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ............................................................................................................................... IV

OVERVIEW OF REA PROCESS ......................................................................................................................1

INTRODUCTION TO THE REA.......................................................................................................................3

BACKGROUND ....................................................................................................................................................3

CONCEPTS AND OUTCOMES................................................................................................................................4

THE ENVIRONMENT DEFINED .............................................................................................................................5


REA PROCESS ....................................................................................................................................................5

ASSESSMENT MODULES......................................................................................................................................6

BEST PRACTICE ..................................................................................................................................................7

APPLICABILITY ...................................................................................................................................................7

WHEN TO DO A REA ..........................................................................................................................................8

LINK TO FORMAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENTS ..............................................................................9


PERSONNEL REQUIREMENTS.............................................................................................................................10

TIME REQUIRED FOR COMPLETION...................................................................................................................11


MONITORING AND EVALUATION.......................................................................................................................13

A NOTE ON RATING METRICS ..........................................................................................................................13

REA MODULE ONE: ORGANIZATION LEVEL ASSESSMENT .............................................................14

INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................................14

HOW TO COMPLETE THE MODULE....................................................................................................................14

PLANNING AND RESOURCES .............................................................................................................................15

SECTION ONE: THE CONTEXT STATEMENT......................................................................................................16

SECTION TWO: FACTORS INFLUENCING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS ...............................................................17

SECTION THREE: ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS OF DISASTERS ..........................................................................19

SECTION FOUR: UNMET BASIC NEEDS ............................................................................................................21


REA MODULE TWO: COMMUNITY LEVEL ASSESSMENT..................................................................26

INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................................26

INFORMATION COLLECTION OPTIONS...............................................................................................................26

QUESTIONNAIRE VERSUS FOCUSED DISCUSSION ..............................................................................................27

COMMUNITY REA INFORMATION COLLECTION GUIDE ....................................................................................28

RECORDING AND USING INFORMATION COLLECTED IN COMMUNITIES ............................................................31

GENERATING CONDENSED COMMUNITY ASSESSMENT INFORMATION .............................................................31

PERSONNEL REQUIREMENTS.............................................................................................................................32

REA MODULE THREE: CONSOLIDATION AND ANALYSIS.................................................................33

INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................................33

CONSOLIDATING ISSUES ...................................................................................................................................34

IDENTIFICATION OF CRITICAL ISSUES AND ACTIONS ........................................................................................34

PRIORITIZING ISSUES AND ACTIONS .................................................................................................................35

REVIEWING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES OF RELIEF OPERATIONS..........................................................36

PLANNING AND RESOURCES .............................................................................................................................36

USING ASSESSMENT RESULTS ..........................................................................................................................36

UPDATING THE REA RESULTS .........................................................................................................................37

REA MODULE FOUR: GREEN REVIEW OF RELIEF PROCUREMENT..............................................38

INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................................38

GREEN PROCUREMENT .....................................................................................................................................38

GREEN PROCUREMENT IN DISASTERS...............................................................................................................39


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

GREEN PROCUREMENT IN EMERGENCIES CHECKLIST.......................................................................................41

ANNEXES ...........................................................................................................................................................43

ANNEX A KEY RESOURCES ..............................................................................................................................43

ANNEX B ORGANIZATION LEVEL ASSESSMENT FORMS ...................................................................................46

CONTEXT STATEMENT......................................................................................................................................46

RATING FORM 1: FACTORS INFLUENCING ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS............................................................49

RATING FORM 2: ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS OF DISASTERS..........................................................................51

RATING FORM 3: UNMET BASIC NEEDS ..........................................................................................................63


ANNEX C GUIDANCE ON THE MANAGEMENT OF MEETINGS............................................................................73

ANNEX D COMMUNITY REA INFORMATION COLLECTION GUIDE....................................................................75

ANNEX E COMMUNITY ASSESSMENT SUMMARY FORM ..................................................................................80

ANNEX F RAP AND RRA TECHNIQUES IN EMERGENCIES...............................................................................83

ANNEX G GUIDELINES ON COMMUNITY ASSESSMENTS ..................................................................................89

ANNEX H ISSUES CONSOLIDATION TABLE ....................................................................................................106

ANNEX I ISSUES AND ACTIONS TABLE ..........................................................................................................108

ANNEX J REA LEADER: KEY CRITERIA ........................................................................................................109


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Overview of REA Process

The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters (REA) process involves

completing four modules according to the specific tasks indicated below, preferably

though a group-based process. The REA process should begin with a review of the

material contained in the Introduction to the REA section of the Guidelines, and

proceed through the four modules summarized below.

Module One: Organization Level Assessment

1. Collect background information and identify assessment participants.

2. Draft three paragraphs describing the disaster for Section One.

3. Complete Section One: The Context Statement.

4. Complete Section Two covering Factors Influencing Environmental Impacts.

5. Complete Section Three covering Environmental Threats of Disasters.

6. Complete Section Four covering Unmet Basic Needs.

7. Complete Section Five covering Negative Environmental Consequences of Relief


8. Rank issues by importance within each section as indicated in the Guidelines.

Note that Sections Two to Five can be completed in break-out sessions.

Module Two: Community Level Assessment

1. Decide on how information on community perceptions of the environment will be


2. If a questionnaire or focused discussion method is used, plan, test and administer the

method in communities. See Annexes F and G on community data collection.

3. Compile the results of the community level assessment into usable form (a report or

completed questionnaire) for each community.

4. If data from other assessments are used, ensure that all the information needed for this

module is collected or extracted from existing assessment reports.

5. Complete the Community Assessment Summary Form based on the information

collected or drawn from other assessments.

6. Rank the issues by relative importance within each section of the form.

Module Three: Consolidation and Analysis

1. Include three to five issues from each section of the Organization and Community

Level Assessments on the Issues Consolidation Table and consolidate the issues

into a single list.

2. Place the single list of issues on the Issues and Actions Table and identify initial

actions and issues and actions.

3. Prioritize these issues and actions according to the impact on life, welfare and

environment hierarchy.

4. Review the potential environmental impact of the actions and make changes are


Module Four: Green Review of Relief Procurement

1. Review the guidance provided in Green Review of Relief Procurement module.

2. Complete the procurement screening table provided in the module.

3. Make changes to procurement plans as appropriate.


Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Module 1

Organization Level


Context Statement

Factors Influencing



Environmental Threats

of Disasters

Unmet Basic Needs



Consequences of

Relief Activities



Step 6

Module 2




Community 1

Community 2

Community 3

Community 4

Community 5

Community 6

Community 7


Step 7

Step 8

Step 9

Step 10

Module 3

Consolidation and


Consolidate the


Identify Critical

Issues and Actions

Prioritize Issues

and Actions


Consequences of

Relief Activities


Step 11

Module 4



of Relief

Procurement Action


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Introduction to the REA

There is a strong link between environmental damage and disasters. Identifying, evaluating

and responding to critical environmental issues during a disaster are key to effective disaster

relief and recovery operations. In normal, non-disaster, situations an environmental impact

assessment (EIA) can be used to identify possible environmental impacts and mitigation


However, as indicated in the box below, a disaster is radically different from normal

conditions, making an EIA inappropriate 1 . Most governments and humanitarian assistance

organizations specifically allow for not doing an EIA in emergencies, recognizing that a full

EIA would considerably slow emergency assistance.

These guidelines for a Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (REA) fill a gap in the

range of tools available to

assess environmental

impacts during disasters.

The REA is designed to

provide input on

environmental conditions in

disaster situations in a way

which is convenient for the

fast moving, time

compressed operational

environment faced in

responding to a disaster.

The REA is one of several

initiatives to improve the

linkages between

sustainable environmental

management and disaster

response. Leaders in this

area include United Nations

Environment Program

(UNEP, see:

and, CARE

International, UNHCR


Contextual Differences:

Normal & Disaster Environmental Assessments

Normal Conditions

• Considerable lead time

• Legal requirement often

exists (country &/or donor)

• Deliberate & pro-active

• Will take time, be thorough

& extensive:

comprehensive data


• “No project” option is a

possible outcome

• Location chosen

• Duration planned

• Beneficiary population

identifiable & static

Environmental goals may

be made compatible with

socio-economic ones

Source: UNHCR and CARE International

bin/texis/vtx/home?page=PROTECT&id=3b94c47b4), the World Wide Fund for Nature

( and Benfield Hazard Research Centre

( These organizations

have not only focused on their own needs, but seek to develop means and methods to assist

all interested organizations and communities to better deal with environmental issues before,

during and after disasters.

1 For further information on environmental impact assessments, see, the environment section of the

Food Aid Management web site ( or the Environmental Assessment

Capacity Building Program (, which includes information and resources useful in postdisaster

recovery activities.



• Sudden onset

• Rarely a legal requirement

but some donor may ask

for it

• Reactive

• May need to be partial in


• “No project” outcome is

not an option

• Unpredictable location

• Uncertain duration

• Beneficiary population

heterogeneous & dynamic

• Priority given to “life

saving” activities

sometime difficult to

reconcile with

environmental goals

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

The REA was developed as a

collaborative effort of the Benfield

Hazard Research Centre, University

College London

( and CARE

International ( The

REA guidelines and background

materials can be accessed at


Funding for this collaboration has

come from the United Nations

Environment Program, Royal

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, Office of U.S. Foreign

Disaster Assistance USAID and

CARE International. The REA

development is guided by an

international advisory board and in

collaboration with over twenty nongovernmental

organizations (NGOs)

and international organizations (IOs)

Concepts and Outcomes

The REA is based on the concept

that identifying and incorporating

environmental issues into the early

stages of a disaster response will

make relief activities more effective

and lay a foundation for a more

comprehensive and speedy

rehabilitation and recovery. The

process and structure of the REA

recognize that those who respond to

disasters have little time for in depth

research and are not likely to be

environmental specialists.

Under these conditions, the first step

in effective response is to identify

and define the nature and

importance of the challenges faced

in dealing with the impact of a

disaster. This is what the REA does:

identify, frame and prioritize

environmental issues in such ways

as to allow the negative impacts to

be minimized or avoided during the

immediate response to a disaster.

A completed REA identifies critical

environmental issues. Some issues

arise from conditions existing before

the disaster. Others are new to the


Key Terms Used in the REA

Advocacy: Act of pleading for, supporting or

recommending, used in the sense of Advocate: one

who pleads for or in behalf of another.

Disaster: An event beyond the immediate means of the

affected populations to cope and which threatens

lives or immediate well being. Disasters are caused

by the interaction of people and a hazard. In the REA,

“emergency” has the same basic meaning as


Environment: See page 5.

Hazard: An event or condition which could result in a

disaster, as in the hazard of flooding.

Livelihood: The capabilities, assets (including both

material and social resources) and activities required

for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when

it can cope with and recover from stresses and

shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and

assets both now and in the future, while not

undermining the natural resource base. (Adapted


section1.pdf and Chambers, R. and G. Conway

(1992) Sustainable rural livelihoods: Practical

concepts for the 21st Century. IDS Discussion Paper

296, Brighton.)

Mitigation: Steps taken before a disaster to reduce the

impact of the disaster or steps taken during a slow

onset disaster to mitigate negative impacts and

reduce the need for relief assistance.

Prevention: Actions taken before a disaster to ensure a

hazard has no impact.

Recovery: Process of supporting emergency-affected

communities in reconstruction of the physical

infrastructure and restoration of emotional, social,

economic and physical well being.

Rehabilitation: Short-term recovery of basic services

and initiation of repair of physical, social, and

economic damages.

Relief: Immediate assistance to save lives and meet

basic needs of disaster affected populations.

Remediation: Action to rectify a deficiency to an

adequate standard of safety. Most often used with

respect to technological disasters.

Response: Actions in the face of an adverse event aimed

at saving lives, alleviating suffering and reducing

economic losses.

Risk: The expected losses due to a particular hazard.

Risk is the product of hazard and vulnerability.

Threat: The specific impending danger or harm that may

result from the occurrence of a hazard.

Based on: Field Operations Guide (USAID) and Australian Emergency

Management Glossary ( or as indicated.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

location or population experiencing the disaster. The nature and impact of environmental

issues will change during and after the disaster and new issues may arise. For these

reasons, the output from an REA is not a static assessment but one to be reviewed and

revised throughout the post-disaster period.

The REA does not provide answers as to how to resolve the critical issues identified in

the assessment. A completed REA does provide sufficient information to allow those

involved in responding to a disaster to formulate common sense solutions using

information otherwise available to address, mitigate or avoid the issues raised in the


Where common sense solutions are not evident or issues are complicated or unclear, a REA

provides sufficient information to request appropriate technical assistance or

advocate appropriate action by a third party. Technical assistance can be secured by

posing specific questions to specialists, or developing simple terms of reference for on-site

specialized technical or material assistance. Sources of technical advice and assistance are

identified in Annex A. Technical assistance is often available locally and this source should

not be overlooked.

The Environment Defined

The REA uses the following definition of the environment, originally developed by the

Sphere Project (

The environment is understood as the physical, chemical and biological

surroundings in which disaster-affected and local communities live and develop

their livelihoods. It provides the natural resources that sustain individuals, and

determines the quality of the surroundings in which they live.


The REA uses a simple, guided, consensus-based qualitative assessment process

incorporating narratives, rating tables and action lists to develop an overall assessment of

critical environmental issues and follow-up actions during a disaster. The REA does not call

for any quantitative data collection, recognizing that this is both time consuming and

operationally difficult in most disasters.

However, quantitative data should be collected and used whenever possible if data

collection and use does not will not slow the overall relief effort. In addition, a clear

documentation of the REA process and collection of environmental data during a disaster

will make an EIA for post-disaster recovery planning easier and more accurate.

REA Process

The REA process is designed to:

1. Collect information needed to assess environmental impacts,

2. Provide simple steps for analyzing this information to identify important issues and,

3. Review procurement decisions to reduce the potential negative environmental

impacts of emergency assistance.

The REA process focuses on the perceptions and concerns about environmental issues and

disaster-environment linkages at two levels. The first level is that of organizations involved in


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

responding to a disaster. This level includes government, non-government and private

organizations that provide external assistance and support in response to a disaster.

The second level is that of communities and groups within communities which are affected

by a disaster. Experience shows that those providing disaster relief and those affected

directly by a disaster often have different perceptions of the impact of a disaster and

corresponding relief needs. Identifying organization and community perceptions separately

and then consolidating these environmental concerns into one set of issues and actions will

improve the efficiency of relief efforts by diminishing the gap in understanding between relief

providers and survivors.

Assessment Modules

A complete REA is accomplished through four modules. The first two modules, an

Organization Level Assessment and a Community Level Assessment, are designed to

collect the basic information necessary to identify critical environmental issues. These

modules focus on five areas:

1. The general context in which the disaster is taking place,

2. The identification of disaster related factors which may have an immediate impact on

the environment,

3. The identification of possible immediate environmental impacts of disaster agents,

4. The identification of unmet basic needs of disaster survivors that could lead to an

adverse impact on the environment, and,

5. The identification of negative environmental consequences of relief operations.

Information on the first two areas establishes the overall context of disaster-environment

interactions. The next three topical areas focus on issues which have direct links to relief

operations. These topical areas are discussed in greater detail in the Organization Level

Assessment module described below.

The information collection process differs between the two modules. The Organization

Level Assessment uses a combination of narrative and rating tables which correspond

closely to the five topical areas summarized above. The Community Level Assessment

can use one of several sources, including a specifically designed questionnaire, focused

discussions, or information collected during other types of assessments (e.g., a food security

assessment). The tasks to complete these two assessments are described in more detail in

the respective modules below.

It is possible to complete a rapid environmental impact assessment using only the

Organization or the Community level assessment module. Using only the Organization

Level Assessment is conceivable when there is no opportunity to collect information from

communities, as is likely in rapid onset disasters. Given this possibility, the Organization

level module also provides basic guidance on how to link assessment outcomes to

immediate relief actions.

It is strongly recommended that if only an Organization Level Assessment is initially

done, a Community Level Assessment should be completed as soon as possible to avoid

any gaps between organization and community level perceptions of environmental issues

and how these issues should be addressed.

On the other hand, sometimes only a Community Level Assessment can be completed


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

and analyzed. However, limiting the REA to only community level input presumes those

organizations (and their personnel) responding to a disaster do not have their own

perceptions of environmental issues and will completely accept the community perceptions.

The reality is that organizations (and especially their funding sources) usually hold strong

views on the nature and modalities of relief assistance. Conducting both Organization and

Community Level Assessments ensures that assistance providers and survivors are, at

the least, not working at cross purposes.

The consolidation and analysis of issues identified in the assessment occurs in the two

assessment modules and through a separate Consolidation and Analysis module. In the

Organization Level Assessment, a preliminary ranking of issues occurs as the result of the

issue rating process. In the Community Level Assessment, a preliminary ranking of issues

occurs through the process of extracting information from a questionnaire, reports on

focused discussions or from other assessment reports.

The Consolidation and Analysis module moves the analysis process further by providing

simple procedures to help consolidate and prioritize the issues identified in the assessments.

The consolidation and analysis process does not identify specific solutions to the issues

identified, but does provide a simple approach to initiate the process of addressing the

issues identified.

The final module, on Green Review of Relief Procurement, aids relief organizations in

identifying whether the services and material assistance they are providing in response to a

disaster have the least negative environmental impact possible. This module lays out the

background to green (sustainable) procurement and provides a simple evaluation tool for

use in emergency procurement.

A number of sources of information can be used to support the completion of the rapid

environmental impact assessment. Annexes to this Guidelines include sources of

information on environmental and disaster issues (Annex A), general guidance on managing

group meetings (Annex C) and on participatory rapid appraisal (Annexes F and G).

It is important that users fully complete the assessment process before taking any significant

action to address identified environmental or disaster-related problems. The REA is an

incremental process designed to draw together many diverse aspects of disasterenvironment

linkages. The most significant issues requiring highest priority action will not be

fully evident until all the assessment results are consolidated and analyzed.

Best Practice

The REA has been developed as the best practice for rapid environmental impact

assessment in disasters. As a best practice, the REA will evolve to take into account

changes in the way disasters are managed and new information sources and procedures.

The REA process has also been linked, where appropriate, to the minimum humanitarian

assistance standards described in the Sphere Project Manual (see However, completing the REA is not dependent on the

Sphere standards, and the REA can easily be used in conjunction with alternates to the

Sphere standards.


The REA is designed for use in all types of disaster situations, including natural,


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

technological and political events. 2 The REA supplements specific technical assessments

and actions initiated following a technological disaster.

In political disasters, such as a civil war, there may be considerable periods when the

affected populations are in disaster-like conditions. The REA is most useful when there is a

significant rapid change in these conditions, such as a change in the mode of conflict,

livelihoods or mechanisms of assistance. For instance, the REA process would be extremely

useful in developing a rapid response to assisting returning populations following a peace

agreement ending a civil war.

However, an assessment of rapid changes in a long-term situation needs to take into

consideration that there are likely to be overlapping short-and long-term environmental

issues. Some of these issues can be addressed through immediate relief efforts, but others

need more substantial long-term solutions. These longer term solutions need to be based in

a more detail environmental impact assessment than that provided in a REA.

The REA can be used in multiple or concurrent disasters. In these situations there is a need

to differentiate between the impacts of the different disasters, and corresponding different

relief options and operations. For instance, the human and environmental impacts of an

earthquake and a drought are different. Addressing environmental issues arising from each

disaster will occur in different time frames and require different types of assistance. These

differences need to be taken into account in the assessment process, and in the process of

linking actions to issues identified during the assessment.

The REA can be used to provide input into a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system

(discussed below). It also has uses as the basis for an environmental impact check list in

relief project design and as a basis for reviewing plans and operations. This process is best

done in collaboration with the persons designing or running the relief operation.

The REA can be modified to reflect the typical disasters and relief and recovery modalities of

a specific region or country. Such modification should focus on changing terminology to

reflect local approaches to disaster management, eliminating unneeded items from various

rating tables, focusing the community assessment process on local conditions and

established assessment procedures and integrating the REA process and analysis into other

routinely done disaster assessment procedures or protocols. Significantly changing the REA

process or eliminating modules is not recommended.

When to Do a REA

The REA is designed for use during the critical disaster response period, from when a

warning of a disaster is first received until conditions have stabilized, normally within 120

days after a trigger event. This 120-day period provides time to begin an EIA as part of the

recovery and rehabilitation process. The REA, besides identifying immediate environmental

factors relevant to the relief operations, provides data and insight that can be incorporated

into the EIA.

The REA should be started as soon as practicable after a warning or start of a disaster. The

initial (baseline) assessment should be followed by periodic updates to ensure the REA

accurately represents current environmental and disaster conditions. The frequency of the

2 UNHCR has developed information and assessment tools for considering environmental impacts in refugee

situations. These materials are useful for internal displacements and are a valuable supplement to the REA. See


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

updates depends on the nature of the disaster. They should be more frequent in large,

quickly evolving events than smaller, more stable disasters.

The immediacy of disaster impact and urgency of relief should be taken into account in

deciding on whether to use a REA or a formal environmental impact assessment process.

For instance, the REA can provide a quick identification of critical environmental issues

following a major earthquake leading to considerable damage and relief needs over a large

area. On the other hand, a REA may not be as urgent, or even appropriate, for a drought

which develops over several years, where impacts are seasonal and time is available to

develop a formal EIA.

The REA can be used before a disaster to anticipate environmental issues and impacts.

However, if there is any significant early warning (e.g., in excess of 60 days), it is likely more

useful to initiate an EIA as part of the pre-disaster planning and mitigation efforts.

The REA provides a “snap-shot” of environmental conditions at the time it is completed. By

setting out prioritized critical issues the REA allows for some anticipation of environmental

impacts. These impacts, and the impact of REA-identified actions, can be assessed through

revisions of the initial REA.

Because the REA is based on perceptions and (often) incomplete data, it should not be used

to make hard-and-fast predictions of environmental impacts. The REA results, like much in

the relief phase of a disaster, are subject to uncertainty and unanticipated changes.

Steps can be taken to prepare for a REA as part of disaster preparedness efforts. Predisaster

tasks can include:

1. Training staff in the use of the REA,

2. Collection of background information (particularly for Section One: Context


3. Reviewing potential hazards and their impacts on potential disaster areas and

survivors (Section Three: Environmental Threats of Disasters),

4. Screening possible relief interventions for negative environmental impacts (Section

Five: Negative Environmental Consequences of Relief Activities), and,

5. Developing skills and systems to quickly collect information from communities for the

Community Level Assessment module.

Taking these steps will considerably shorten the time needed to conduct the REA during a


Link to Formal Environmental Impact Assessments

A REA does not replace a formal EIA. Rather, it fills the gap between the start of a disaster

and when the formal EIA process can be initiated. This gap is expected to correspond

closely to the120 day relief operations period, with the EIA process coming to play with the

design and planning of recovery programs.

Data collected and data collection systems established through a REA can provide important

inputs into an EIA. A well-documented REA will aid considerably in defining the scope and

coverage of an eventual EIA and data collected as part of the REA or subsequent M&E

efforts may have use in completing a normal EIA.



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

The REA is intended to be used by persons with no specific background in environmental

issues and relatively little background in disaster management. The primary REA users are

expected to be government, NGO or IO staff conducting field assessments or directly

managing relief operations.

The REA can be used by communities experiencing a disaster, although this will require

additional planning to ensure community participants understand the REA concepts and

procedures. In any case, community involvement in the REA should be sought

whenever possible. The Community Level Assessment module is specifically designed

for this purpose.

The REA can be used by headquarters or donor staff to screen projects under design or

review. In particular, Sections Four and Five of the Organization Level Assessment

module can be used to quickly assess whether a proposed project has considered and is

addressing salient environmental issues. The Green Review of Relief Procurement

module is designed to screen whether procurement proposed under a project has taken into

account steps to minimize negative impacts on the environment.

Personnel Requirements

Ideally an initial REA will be completed by a group of persons directly involved in the disaster

response. A group approach promotes the presentation of various views and perspectives

on environmental issues and disaster impact. This limits the chance that issues or problems

will be missed in the initial assessment or an individual’s own personal views will result in a

narrow perspective of environmental conditions. This group process should be managed by

one person charged with leading the assessment process, collecting background

information, and recording and keeping a file of the assessment results. (See Annex J, REA

Leader: Key Criteria.)

The REA can be done by a single person. Care is needed, however, to ensure that this

person has adequate time and means to collect the information needed to accurately

complete the REA modules. In addition, having one person completing all four modules of

the REA will likely take considerable time and detract from the rapid nature of the


The assessment process laid out in the Organization Level Assessment module is best

completed by a group of ten to twelve persons. This allows for a diversity of views and for

the larger group to be broken-up into working groups for work on the rating forms. When the

REA involves planned or on-going projects, the key staff of these projects should be

involved in completing and updating the REA.

The Community REA Questionnaire (provided for in the Community Level Assessment

module) can be done by one person, although it is preferable for at least two persons to

work together on completing the questionnaire. To cover as many communities as possible,

several teams can concurrently administer an assessment questionnaire or other data

collection procedure to a number of communities.

The REA results should be updated periodically and this updating done by the same group

which completed the original assessment. A single person can update a REA, although this

person needs to have a good knowledge of how the disaster is progressing and of changes

in impacts and relief requirements.


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As noted, the REA can be done with (or even by) disaster survivors. This will involve more

pre-assessment preparation to ensure the community understands the concepts and basis

for the REA process, and add to the time and workload of the overall assessment. However,

the benefits, in improved understanding of local concerns for the environment and closer

links between survivor needs and assistance plans, can be significant and warrant the extra


Time Required for Completion

The time needed to complete a full REA depends on:

• The nature of the disaster,

• Whether both Organization and Community Level Assessments are completed,

• The level of preparation of those completing the assessment work, and

• The amount of training on the REA which has been provided.

The time needed to complete the

Organization Level Assessment can

range from under four hours to one and

one half days, depending on participant

familiarity with the REA and the

Guidelines, the need for translation and

the extent of preparations. It is

recommended that four to six hours be

allocated to preparation for the

Organization Level Assessment,

covering the collection of background

information, drafting parts to the Context

Statement, and translation of key

materials as needed.

If a number of organizations are involved

in the Organization Level Assessment,

a second meeting of the participants in the

initial assessment is recommended to

validate results once the REA has been

completed. This validation meeting can

require up to two hours with a similar

period of time for preparation of briefing

materials. 3

Time needed to complete the Community Level Assessment depends on whether the

assessment can be based on existing information sources (i.e., other assessments) or

whether there is a need for a separate community data collection effort. Experience indicates

that administering a questionnaire or focus discussion process in a community requires two

to four hours per group contacted. In practical terms, this means collecting information from

one community per day if the communities are reasonably accessible, with the total number

of days dependent on the number of communities included in the assessment and the

3 Note that the REA is intended to provide input into planning and operations and will not necessarily generate a

detailed assessment report. In the absence of a formal report, meeting with assessment participants may be the

most effective way to share the results of the assessment.


Time Needed for REA Completion

Organization Level Assessment: 4 hours

to 1 1/2 days depending on preparation.

4 to 6 hours of preparation will greatly

shorten the time needed for group

assessment. A follow-up validation

meeting (recommended if several

parties are involved the assessment)

should require 2 hours.

Community Level Assessment: 1 day per

community. 1 to 2 days to extract and

complete preliminary analysis of

information, depending on source of


Consolidation and Analysis: 3 hours up to

2 days (if large group discussions are

involved), including time to write-up


Green Review of Relief Procurement: No

additional time required if integrated into

procurement process.

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number of survey teams.

The extraction and preliminary analysis of community information, whether from

questionnaires, focused discussions or other assessment reports requires anywhere from 4

hours to one day depending on how well records are kept and the number of groups covered

in the assessment. Needing to read several assessment reports to become familiar with the

information available can add to the time required.

Completing the preliminary analysis at the end of each community visit can shorten the time

required to complete a preliminary analysis. As with the Organization Level Assessment,

good planning and preparations are critical to a rapid completion of the assessment process.

Completing the Consolidation and Analysis module can require from three hours to up to a

day and a half of group discussions and up to an additional one half day to write-up results.

The time needed for this module can be shortened by having the analysis done by one

person, although the advantage of using a group process for validation and buy-in to the

assessment results is significant.

The work needed to complete the Green Review of Relief Procurement module is

relatively short if information is available on the services or materials to be procured. Ideally,

the check list review should be completed as procurement specifications are developed or

procurement plans are reviewed. In this situation, the Green Review of Relief Procurement

should not add measurably to the time needed to complete the normal emergency

procurement process.

When considering the time needed to complete the REA it should be kept in mind that the

REA is a rapid, not a comprehensive, assessment. The REA is not designed to clarify all

possible environmental issues linked to a disaster, or to provide detailed answers to issues

which are identified as being critical. Efforts to address issues identified during the

assessment should take place after the assessment and not unnecessarily lengthen the

assessment process itself.

Completion of the whole REA by a single individual will take somewhat longer than

completion with group participation, particularly because of the time needed to contact and

interview knowledgeable persons. Updating or revising an initial REA, if done regularly and

by persons knowledgeable about the disaster and who participated in the initial REA, should

take no more than a couple of hours.

The REA will generate follow-up activities. This work is closely related to tasks necessary for

an efficient relief operation and should not add significantly to the disaster-related work load.

However, these follow-up activities may lead to work in areas where relief operations have

not been given sufficient attention, and generate new workloads.


The gender, social, cultural, ecological, and economic diversity of the area covered by a

rapid environmental impact assessment should be considered in organizing and conducting

the assessment. Perception of environmental conditions, salient issues and ways to address

environmental issues can vary by gender, age, social status, culture and economic status.

Participants in the REA should reflect the gender, social and cultural diversity of the

population within the area for which the assessment is being conducted. This is particularly

true for the Community Level Assessment where contacts with communities should

include an accurate representation of the different groups within a community. In turn, this


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

implies that persons participating in the REA be aware of the diversity of groups within the

assessment target area. The REA is of little value if it does not represent the social

environment of the area affected by a disaster.

Monitoring and Evaluation

The REA can contribute to the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of relief activities and

environmental impacts. The initial REA provides a baseline on environmental conditions and

issues, and an indication of possible environmental impacts of relief activities.

REA updates provide information useful to monitor progress toward objectives and changes

in impact on the environment. This information can be used in evaluating relief and

environmental interventions. The REA can also point to environmental issues to be included

in the follow-up to emergency interventions as well as identify possible indicators for a formal

M&E system.

Users are cautioned that REA is not a stand-alone M&E system but a tool available to a

formally organized and managed M&E process. A formal M&E system needs additional

information not provided by the REA. Over time the REA results will likely become less

important as formal M&E data collection systems are instituted. The UNHCR Environmental

Indicator Framework: A Monitoring System for Environment-Related Activities in Refugee

Operations provides a process and indicators which can be adapted to most disaster

response situations and complement monitoring data collected through the use of the


A Note on Rating Metrics

Simple rating scales are used in the REA. Although specific rating procedures and scales

are set out in the Guidelines, the rating methods or scales can be changed to reflect local

preferences. However, the original intent of the scaling should be maintained. Any new

methods and scales should be used consistently during the assessment and any revisions.

A second issue in rating metrics is the differences in values assigned to specific metric

ranges (e.g., 1 to 10 or low, medium and high) by different raters. In a group, this is not a

major concern as the process of developing an action list for each Section and for the

synthesis comes from a consensus process. In contrast, if only one person does the REA

ratings, then her/his perceptions are clear from the ranking outcome.

Differences in the values assigned by an individual to each step of a rating (e.g., the values

of 1 to 10 in a ten-step rating) can be a problem when a REA update is done by a group

substantially different in membership or background than the group who did the initial

assessment. Ideally, REA updating should be done by substantially the same group which

did the initial REA. If there is no significant continuity between initial REA and update

groups, it may be best to consider the “update” as a new REA, reflecting new conditions and

new perceptions of these conditions. This means, of course, that the whole REA process

should be completed anew.


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REA Module One: Organization Level Assessment

Module Summary

The Organizational Level Assessment module focuses on critical environmental issues from

the perspective of government, non-government and private relief organizations. The

assessment uses narrative and rating forms covering environmental issues which can arise in

a disaster and provides limited guidance on how to address these issues. This assessment

can be done without the companion Community Level Assessment as an immediate input

into needs assessments and the planning of relief operations, particularly during short onset

disasters. However, completion of the Community Assessment is recommended when time

allows. The assessment can be completed by an individual, but is best done by a group of ten

to twelve field personnel and can take as little as four hours if a comparable period is

dedicated to preparations.


The Organization Level Assessment identifies critical environmental issues linked to a

disaster from the perspective of staff working for government, non-government and private

organizations providing relief and recovery assistance. The assessment is accomplished by

completing a narrative and a set of rating forms covering most environmental issues which

can arise in a disaster. The narrative and rating process, involving five Sections, is described

below, with the purpose, process and expected outcomes for each Section covered. The

narrative outline and rating forms are provided in Annex B.

How to Complete the Module

This module can be completed by an individual. However, it is recommended the module be

completed by a group of between ten and twelve individuals. These individuals should have

at least general knowledge of the disaster event or location in which the disaster is taking

place. If a larger (or very diverse) group is used to complete this module then additional

preparation is recommended to minimize the actual group work time. It is also optimum for

the group doing the assessment to be from a variety of backgrounds and diversity of

experiences. Suggestions on how to manage a group assessment process are provided in

Annex C.

If more than seven people are involved in completing this module, a combination of single

and break-out group sessions is recommended. With this approach, the Context Statement

is completed in a single group of all the assessment participants. The remaining four module

Sections are completed by break-out groups.

The results of the break-out group ratings can be compared and compiled into a single list

for each Section, at the end of each Section session or once all the Sections are completed.

The compilation process is accomplished by presenting the issues and rankings for each

Section made by each break-out group in a single table (e.g., flip chart) and reaching

agreement within the group as to a final rating based on the individual break-out group


Agreement is most easily reached by averaging the scores provided for each issue by each

break-out group. For instance, if one break-out group rates an issue as 5.2 and the other


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

group rates the same issue as 8.5, then the final rating would be 6.85. Although somewhat

simplistic, the averaging approach is in keeping with the need for completing the assessment

process as rapidly as possible.

Break-out groups provide more opportunity for discussion and reduce the likelihood of a few

individuals dominating deliberations. It is critical that all the break-out groups use the

same rating scales and procedures. These scales and procedures need to be made clear

at the beginning of the break-out sessions and monitored during the assessment by the

assessment leader.

Once all the Sections of the Organization Level Assessment are completed by the breakout

groups, a single group session is needed to compile a single ranked list of issues. For

the Context Statement this involves participants identifying critical issues highlighted in the

statement through a moderated discussion led by the assessment leader and voting on the

ranking issues from most to least important.

Ranking issues from the other four Sections in the module is based on ranking each issue

within a Section by the rating score it received. (Comparison of issues between Sections is

done in the Consolidation and Analysis module.) In other words, issues should be

organized from high to low by their individual rating. For instance, three issues with ratings of

7.2, 3 and 6.9 would be ranked as 3, 6.9 and 7.2. 4 If two or more issues have the same

rating, then the group can vote to rank the issues from most important to least important and

the results incorporated into the overall raking of issues for the section. A simple hierarchy

for deciding importance is provided in the Consolidation and Analysis module.

Planning and Resources

Completing the Organization Level Assessment module can require anywhere from under

four hours to 1 1/2 days. Factors which can lengthen the module completion include a lack

of preparation, the verbatim translation of Guidelines during assessment sessions, a lack of

unfamiliarity with the REA and Guidelines on the part of the participants, and participation of

a large and diverse group in the assessment.

Preparations for completing the module should cover the following points:

• Ensure it is clear who will lead the overall assessment, including coordination of

follow-up actions, and integration of results into project design and management.

• Identify and collect key background information, including maps and reports (see


• Draft a preliminary Context Statement for review by assessment participants.

Providing a draft Context Statement helps participants to have a common

understanding of the disaster under assessment and facilitates the identification of

additional information to be included in the statement.

• Decide which parts of Rating Form 2 (Environmental Threats of Disasters) and

Rating Form 4 (Negative Environmental Consequences of Relief Activities) do

not apply to the disaster under assessment and can be eliminated. Care should be

taken to avoid inadvertently eliminating any important aspect of the disasterenvironment

linkage. And it should be kept in mind that environmental impacts may

change and evolve during a disaster, and these changes should be taken into

4 Note that for some sections, a low number is more significant in terms of negative environmental impact than a

higher number, so a higher rating does not necessarily mean a higher ranking of importance in the assessment.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

account when up-dating an assessment.

• Determine the appropriate rating scales for Rating Forms 1 and 3. See A Note on

Rating Metrics above.

• Review Rating Form 3 and decide whether the assessment will focus on the twelve

basic needs alone, or cover each indicator.

• Review Rating Form 4 to ensure it includes local coping mechanisms and actions if

they are known.

• Identify assessment participants and ensure that they will be available as needed for

group assessment sessions and follow-up activities.

• Review the terms used in the assessment and ensure that they are understandable

to participants. This is particularly important if the assessment will be completed by

persons who are not native English speakers. See the Key Terms Used in the REA

box in the Introduction for a starter list of terms.

• Provide rating forms, background information and a list of key terms to participants

early enough before assessment sessions that time is available for review.

• At the start of the assessment, review the instructions for using the Guidelines to

ensure they will be understood by participants.

The Organization Level Assessment requires minimal resources. Copies of the REA forms

(Annex B) should be available to each participant, with extra copies to be used for

summarizing results. A writing board or overhead projector and flip charts will be useful. The

following resources will also facilitate the assessment work:

• A map of the disaster area (several copies are recommended).

• Contact lists of persons and organizations involved in responding to the disaster and

local environmental concerns (including a local phone directory). Note that this list

forms part of the Context Statement.

• Disaster situation reports, development project documents and environmental impact

assessments covering the area and population being assessed.

• Background information on the culture, economy, history and environment of the

disaster affected area.

Section One: The Context Statement

The Context Statement places the disaster in the context of overall impact, providing a

summary of the emergency situation, response requirements and highlighting pre-existing

salient factors which frame or impact an environmentally aware response. The Context

Statement serves to ensure that all those working on the REA are “singing from the same

sheet of music”. To this end, the Statement identifies:

• The cause/s and impacts of the disaster,

• Whether changes to conditions at the disaster will affect environmental conditions

and relief needs.

• Priority relief effort and areas of interest to the party completing the REA.

• Salient environmental issues existing before the disaster/assessment,

• Sources of information,


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• Legal or policy requirements related to the management of environmental issues in a


Environmental aspects of the emergency which may require actions only available

from specialized organizations or companies 5 and,

• The need for further assessment/information collection and technical assistance 6 in

addressing problems associated with environmentally unique locations.

The Context Statement (found in Annex B) is developed by providing a narrative summary

of the disaster and answers to five questions. Comments on the significance of each section

and guidance on addressing issues identified are provided in the form. This comments and

guidance should be used as reference in the identification of critical issues as input into the

Consolidation and Analysis module.

It is most efficient for an assessment team leader (in the case of a team assessment) to draft

sections which cover the narrative requirement and provide answers to the five questions.

This draft of the Context Statement can then be reviewed by the assessment team and

changes made as appropriate. Note that most of the information needed for the Context

Statement is the same as required for disaster impact assessment and relief planning.

Once the Context Statement is completed, participants should identify critical issues

highlighted in the statement. This is best done through a moderated discussion led by the

assessment leader and voting on the ranking of issues from most to least important. The

critical issues thus identified are used in the Consolidation and Analysis module.

Specific notation of the geographic location of environmental problems, potential hazardous

sites and locations where special attention is indicated should be made in completing the

Statement. Marking key information on a map of the disaster area is recommended as a

way to easily record and present the information assembled for the Statement and during

the whole assessment process. 7

Local sources of information, including communities, individuals and institutions,

should be used whenever possible. The Field Operations Guide for Disaster Assessment

and Response (Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, provides detailed guidance and checklists

which can be helpful in completing this and other sections of the REA. When possible,

quantitative data should be used in the REA and systematically collected for use in updating

an initial assessment.

Section Two: Factors Influencing Environmental Impacts

There are a number of factors which may positively or negatively influence the severity of

environmental impacts during and following a disaster. These factors are related to the

5 A need for specialized response often arises from technology-related aspects of a disaster, but can also be

critical in dealing with bio-diversity and natural resource issues, such as a disaster which affects an area

inhabited by an endangered species.


Technical assistance can be available from in-house experts or consultants providing advice from a distance or

coming to the disaster site itself.

7 Computer-based geographic information systems (GIS) are invaluable in archiving and presenting data

collected for the REA (see for more on maps and GIS sources). However, a simple handdrawn

map may be largely adequate in the early phases of most disasters and a lack of technological tools

should not limit the mapping process.


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spatial, social and economic conditions under which the disaster survivors live and indicate

environmental impact issues which may need to be addressed as part of the disaster

response. Identifying the importance of these factors aids in determining which relief

activities to avoid or to use to mitigate negative environmental impacts, and where these

interventions should be targeted.

The nature of these factors varies. Several factors, including population density, extent of

the disaster area, whether the survivors are displaced, or resource availability, are clearly

spatial (geographic). Other factors, such as self-sufficiency, sustainability, social solidarity 8 ,

or environmental resilience 9 are facets of how people and place interact and therefore also

have a spatial element. A number of the factors relate to the survivors themselves, for

instance the density of settlements or social structure. Other factors, such as environmental

resilience, sustainability and absorptive capacity, are essentially environmental but defined

by human action.

The comparative subjective rating of Factors Influencing Environmental Impacts is

accomplished using Rating Form 1 (Annex B). The rating process involves two steps.

Step One

A rating of each factor is completed based on the respective scale to indicate importance as

a possible negative impact on the environment. Possible negative environmental

implications for each factor are noted as guidance in the rating process.

The rating scales are organized so that lower rating numbers indicate factors more likely to

result in negative impacts and which therefore should receive a higher priority for attention.

In other words, a one is a higher priority for action than a five.

Note that the numerical direction (1 to 10 or 10 to 1) assigned to each rating range can differ

between factors. This is done to generate rating results for each factor which consistently

lead to lower numbers indicating higher priority for action.

IThe rating scales can be changed to suit user preferences. Alternate rating metrics need to

maintain the position that a lower rating means greater potential impact on the environment.

Step Two

Once each factor is rated, individual ratings are then ranked from lowest to highest number.

The factors with lowest numbers should be considered as priorities for action, with the level

of priority decreasing as the number increases.

Note, however, that not all priority issues identified in the rating process will become targets

for immediate action. Some issues may not be easily susceptible to relief interventions or

should be deferred to the recovery phase.

Alternately, the environmental impact of other factors may resolve themselves. This would

be the case where the population density in a temporary shelter decreases as people return

to their normal homes. Changes in the importance of the factors should be reviewed with

each REA update.

8 The degree to which disaster survivors, and survivors and non-affected populations, work together.

9 The ability of the environment to recover from the impact of the disaster or other shock.


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Section Three: Environmental Threats of Disasters

Hazards associated with a disaster can lead to direct or indirect negative impacts on the

environment. Relief interventions to address impacts on the environment may be critical to

eliminating threats to the lives or well being of the disaster survivors. An example is a tidal

surge that passes through a fertilizer factory, contaminating nearby ponds used for drinking

water. Here the need is to quickly identify the environmental problem and solutions and need

for further assessment.

In other cases, hazards may require immediate and long-term responses. An example is the

collapse of a mine tailings retention dam due to heavy rains, with the tailings contaminating

a drainage basin and river bottom sediment. Here the need is to identify the problem in

sufficient detail so that: (1) immediate steps can be taken to avoid contact with the

contaminated area, and (2) for remediation to be included in the post-disaster EIA and

recovery plans.

The identification and rating of possible immediate environmental impacts of different

hazards present during a disaster provides a quick way to focus on significant immediate

threats to lives and well being. Those threats with high rating values should receive greater

and more immediate attention than threats with lower values.

The focus in this REA section is on hazards which can have an immediate impact on the

environment. Hazards not normally associated with disasters are not explicitly considered.

An example of what is not covered is the alkalization of soils due to improper irrigation, while

soil contamination due to unusual flooding is covered.

Some hazards include a number of distinct threats to life, welfare or the environment. In this

section, hazards are associated with specific threats to lives and well being to aid in the

assessment process. An example of a hazard/threat combination is flooding (the hazard)

which leads to the deposition of contaminated sediment which can cause health problems

(the threat) on farm land used for rice cultivation.

Hazards expected to have a major contribution to the cause or impact of the disaster are

identified using Rating Form 2 (Annex B). The hazards, and threats posed by these

hazards, should be rated and ranked according to the four step process described below.

Step One

Individual hazard/threat combinations should be rated as to whether they pose no, an

unknown or significant threat to the disaster affected population. Guidance on determining

significant threat threshold is provided to assess the significance of a threat.

The guidance on threat significance may refer to information not immediately available, for

instance, the presence of chemicals exceeding acceptable levels. These hazards and

threats then fall into the unknown category, requiring further investigation before they can be

fully assessed. Quantitative data relative to specific threats identified as important in the

initial assessment should be collected and used to update the initial assessment whenever


Discrete hazard/threat combinations should be rated separately. Specific combinations may

need to be added to the form to address specific disaster situations. For example, under

Disease, measles and malaria would be rated separately if both are considered to be

threats following a disaster.

The rating process can be considerably shortened if clearly inappropriate hazards and

threats are eliminated from the rating form. However, the significance of hazards and threats


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can change during a disaster or where there are multiple disasters. A quick review of all

possible disaster agents at each revision of the assessment is recommended.

Step Two

Second, each hazard/threat combination given an unknown or significant rating should then

be rated as to physical (geographical) size of area affected. Area affected is used as a

determinant of significance of a threat for two reasons. First, the larger the area affected, the

greater the number of disaster survivors who are likely to be affected. Second, impacts

affecting larger areas are likely to require more extensive responses and be significant within

the overall disaster response. (Small intense threats from disasters and other sources are

identified through the Context Statement.)

Rating Form 2 provides three indications of area affected: small, medium, and large. The

determination of affected area should be relative to the total area affected by the disaster.

For instance, a hazard which affects only 10% of the total area of a disaster could be

considered as affecting a relatively small part of the disaster area, while a hazard which

affects 80% of a disaster area can be considered as relatively large. Note that setting the

lower and upper limits to the size of the medium area also sets the upper limit to the small

area and the lower limit for what is to be considered as a large area. The area size criteria

can be changed to suit user preferences, but should not be made overly complex.

Step Three

The ratings for hazard significance and area affected ratings are multiplied. The resulting

scores (using the scales in Rating Form 3 in the Annex) range from zero to six (if all nonrelevant

hazard/threat combinations had not been previously eliminated.)

Step Four

The scores for each hazard/threat combination are ranked from highest to lowest. The

resulting ranking indicates hazard/threat combinations which should receive greater

immediate attention (highest ranked) and ones which receive lower priority attention or be

addressed during recovery or developmental efforts.

Rating Form 2 also provides general indications as to response options and the need for

specialized assessment, planning or response assistance. Each option requires further work

to become an effective response. Other options may be identified in the course of further

assessments and planning.

In some cases, information available locally combined with simple sampling methods will

allow experts distant from the disaster to determine the significance of a threat and formulate

plans for further assessments or response activities. Input from disaster survivors and

neighboring non-affected populations should also be solicited.

In other cases, local or expatriate technical assistance may be needed on-site to deal with

the threats. This assistance may involve considerable time and expense. Organizations

doing the REA need to consider how deeply they are willing to be involved in dealing with

threats to the environment. Advocacy, particularly after clearly defining an environmental

threat, with government or specialized organizations, may be more effective over the longterm

than taking on a new and complex role in dealing with complex environmental

problems during a disaster.

The following steps can be taken to facilitate the work on this Section and post assessment

assistance planning process.

1. Marking on a map the area(s) which have been identified as affected by the hazard

threats and likely source area of the threat if one exists. Example: area flooded and


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

location of the fertilizer factory that was flooded. The affected area would be

downstream from the factory, not the whole area flooded.

2. Collecting contact information if the expected threat has a site-specific origin.

Example: Names and phone numbers of factory managers. This information and

information on local sources of technical assistance may already be collected as part

of the Context Statement. 10

3. Identifying sources of information on the physical nature of the threat. Example: Flow

rates and levels of flood waters carrying possibly contaminated sediment.

4. Identifying, if possible, sources of pre-disaster data on environmental and health

conditions related to the expected threat. Example: Tests of soil and human blood

levels of organo-chloride pesticides before disaster.

This information should be included in a request for technical assistance although an initial

alert report as to a possible threat should not be delayed while this information is being


Some overlap between this Section and Section One, particularly Elements 3, 4, and 5, is

to be expected. Responses to this Section and Section One should be cross-checked. This

cross-checking will identify any small area but intense threats which should be identified as

critical issues at the end of this assessment.

Section Four: Unmet Basic Needs

Identifying unmet basic needs highlights areas in which the survivors’ own relief efforts and

external assistance are not likely to be adequate. Needs which are not being met may result

in environmental damage from a survivor’s efforts to cover basic needs. These impacts can

be direct (e.g., cutting wood for cooking fires) or indirect (e.g., cutting and selling wood to

buy water). Links between the way needs are being met and possible environmental impacts

are generally obvious, but may require quick investigation to ensure information is accurate

and complete.

In some cases, the basic needs of a disaster-affected population were not being fully met

before the disaster. Considering the change in how well basic needs are being met before

and after a disaster can provide useful insight into the relative needs of the disaster survivors

and provide an indication of where recovery assistance can also be used to improve the predisaster

level of development of the affected populations.

It is important to determine whether meeting a basic need is taking place in a way which

could seriously deplete essential resources during relief and recovery periods. Excessive

use will affect future supplies, and likely quality, of the resource. The result is that a resource

may meet minimum needs at one point during the relief operation, but these needs will

become unmet as the resource is depleted.

This will, of course, lead to problems with relief operations and may result in avoidable

environmental damage. As a result, defining resource availability throughout the 120 day

relief and recovery period is an important part of minimizing the environmental impacts of


It is important to note that in a disaster, damage to the environment can be accepted if this

10 Also see Guidelines for Environmental Assessment Following Chemical Emergencies, Joseph Bishop, Joint

UNEP/ECHO Environmental Unit, United Nations, Geneva, 1999 for further guidance on reporting.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

damage is an unavoidable consequence of saving lives and maintaining basic welfare.

Noting this damage is important in planning remediation efforts as part of the recovery and

rehabilitation phases.

Rating Form 3 (Annex B) provides a list of twelve basic need categories and thirty four

indicators. A simple two step process, described below, is used to identify how well the basic

needs of disaster affected populations are being met. This form should be completed based

on actual conditions and not expectations or promises of aid.

The indicators used in Rating Form 3 were selected based on (1) their general applicability,

(2), their direct link to actions by survivors following a disaster, (3) the likelihood of

information on the indicator would be available after a disaster and, (4) the link between the

indicator and reported environmental impacts during or after disasters. Indicators are derived

largely from the standards and indicators contained in the Humanitarian Charter and

Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (, which reflects

universally applicable human rights to life with dignity.

Specific countries or regions may use higher indicators based on laws or tradition. In this

case the indicators in Rating Form 3 can be changed as appropriate. Alternately, users can

substitute other indicators which are more relevant to the specifics of a disaster or needs of

an organization doing an assessment. But in no case should indicators be lowered below

those currently found in Rating Form 3.

Step One

Each of the basic need needs is rated on how well the need was being met before the

disaster and under current (disaster) conditions. In addition, each need is assessed with a

yes/no answer as to whether the use of resources to meet this need will lead to a significant

reduction in quantity or quality of these resources the next 120 days.

Rating Form 3 uses a 1 to 10 scale. Ratings can be whole numbers or whole numbers and

fractions. As discussed in A Note on Rating Metrics, the rating scale can be changed as

long as the original rating order is maintained. Alternates include a 1 to 5 scale and

descriptive scales such as wholly unmet, somewhat met, generally met, totally met.

The indicators provided to the right of each basic need can be used in deliberations on how

well a need is being met. The more an indicator is met and the more indicators met for each

need, the greater the score for a particular indicator.

Disaster situation and other reports are a good source of data and information on whether

needs are being met. Sources of quantitative data used should be noted for future reference.

The rating scale used is organized so that the higher a rating the greater the degree to which

the need is being met. A low rating in the current condition column mean a specific need is

being met poorly or not at all. The rating scale can be changed to accommodate user

preferences but any scale used should be consistent for all needs being rated.

Step Two

A prioritized list of unmet needs which require action to limit environmental damage is

created by:

1. Ranking the scores for each unmet need from lowest to highest and,

2. Identifying needs where the use of resources to meet these needs will likely

deteriorate in quantity or quality over the next 120 days.

Needs with lower numbers (that is, at the top of the list) have a greater priority for action as

they are more likely to lead to negative impacts on the environment as survivors attempt to


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

meet these needs. If needs are being met but at resource use rates which will lead to a

deterioration of quantity or quality there is a need for immediate mitigation measures to avoid

future problems for relief operations and the environment.

Placing needs which are being met in a way which can lead to resource deterioration in the

ranked list depends on:

1. How soon the deterioration is likely to occur and,

2. How critical the need is the survivors.

An immediate deterioration affecting a highly critical need would lead to the need being

ranked at the top of the list regardless of whether the need was being met (i.e., received a

10) at the time of the assessment. The group or individual doing the assessment should

decide where these resource deterioration-linked needs are to be placed on the final rating

list based on near term impact on the survivors and the immediate importance of other


A comparison of the level of needs met before and after a disaster is possible by comparing

the rankings in columns two and three of the rating form for each need. For instance, the

after disaster rating can be subtracted from the before rating to give an indication of the

scale of negative impact of the disaster on specific needs.

The expectation is that greater the difference in scores, the greater potential environmental

impact as well need for relief assistance. However, the ratings are subjective and not

necessarily based on the survivors’ own priorities and actions. Any comparison of scores

should be used cautiously and any resulting analysis confirmed with survivors.

Some disaster relief operations focus on bringing conditions for an affected population back

to the level existing before a disaster. This focus may generate an interest in using the

difference between the before and after scores to define how much assistance is needed to

recover from the impact of the disaster.

There are, however, two problems with this idea. First, as indicated, the assessment results

are subjective and need to be confirmed with the survivors before being used for major

programmatic decision.

Second, the degree to which needs are being met pre-disaster for some populations may be

significantly below acceptable standards, as indicated by the information in the right hand

column of the rating form. This raises the question whether relief should be used to

improvement on pre-disaster conditions, but also recognize that some inadequately met

needs may only be addressed through developmental interventions following relief and

recovery operations. This question should be dealt with according to each organization’s

specific policies.

Alternate Rating Process

A second option is available for the needs rating process. In Step One, each of the thirty

four indicators for the twelve basic needs (listed in the far right column) is rated separately

as to whether the indicator is being met or not. (This rating uses the same procedures as

used for the twelve basic needs.) These thirty four ratings, along with whether they are being

met in a manner which will reduce the quantity or quality of resources to a point where

minimum needs cannot be met in the 120 day period following the assessment, are then

ranked as described in Step Two.

The results allow for a more specific targeting of relief to address specific unmet needs

which may be linked to negative environmental impacts. This more detailed assessment is

very useful in an initial disaster assessment when immediate decisions are needed on


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

targeting immediate relief and no in depth assessment is available.

At the same time, this process takes more time and information than only dealing with the

twelve basic needs alone. The detailed assessment should only be done if specific

information is available on each of the indicators.

Section Five: Negative Environmental Consequences of Relief


Disaster relief activities focus on saving lives and stabilizing well being and living conditions.

The need for an urgent response often does not allow time to assess possible negative

environmental consequences or secondary impacts of emergency interventions. The rapid

identification of potential negative environmental consequences of possible relief activities

provides a way to quickly recognize and mitigate these negative impacts.

This Section focuses exclusively on relief efforts. It anticipates that some (and possibly most)

relief activities will not be developed based on detailed pre-disaster plans. Activities may be

developed and implemented by organizations with no pre-disaster familiarity with an affected

population or area. The need to act quickly will require a process where the objectives and

process by which relief operations are conducted are decided on a daily or weekly basis in

the field.

These conditions create a strong likelihood that environmental consequences will not be fully

assessed and mitigated. A list-based approach provides a quick way to identify (1) possible

negative impacts of relief interventions and (2) how to develop ways to avoid or mitigate

these impacts.

It should be recognized that not all negative impacts can be mitigated or avoided during

relief operations. Where this is the case, the problem areas should be addressed as part of

plans and programs during the post-disaster recovery period.

An identification of negative impacts of relief assistance can lead to three outcomes. The first

is a decision to postpone or cancel a relief action because it will result in unacceptable

environmental damage. This decision should not be taken lightly, as it may result in more

immediate hardship for the disaster survivors.

The second (preferred) outcome is to change ongoing activities or plans to incorporate

environmental impact mitigation or avoidance measures. The Green Review of Relief

Procurement module is specifically designed help minimize negative environmental impacts

from the procurement of supplies and services.

The third option is to accept negative environmental impacts due to relief assistance as

unavoidable and preferable to not providing assistance. This could be the case, for instance,

with the use of pesticides to control an insect-related disease outbreak. In this case, impact

mitigation and remediation actions should be included in other elements of the relief effort or

in post-disaster recovery programs.

The identification of potential negative environmental consequences of possible relief

activities is accomplished by completing Rating Form 4 (Annex B) in a three step process.

Step One

Each of the possible relief interventions listed are reviewed to determine (yes or no) whether

the intervention is planned or underway as part of the disaster relief effort. The review

process can be shortened if interventions which are not likely are eliminated from the rating

form before the rating takes place. However, this pruning should not eliminate possible


future interventions.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

The interventions summarized in Rating Form 4 cover the most common types of relief

assistance. Other types of interventions are possible and need to be assessed for negative


Step Two

In the second step, relief interventions which are planned or underway are screened to

determine whether potential negative environmental impacts have been addressed in project

design or operations. This screening takes place by answering the questions in the third

column with a yes or no in the fourth column. Potential negative impacts which have not

been addressed, that is have no answers, become issues which require follow-up as a result

of the assessment. (All interventions should be monitored in real time for negative impacts

and this list amended accordingly.)

The form also includes possible avenues for consequence avoidance or mitigation. This

information can help identify ways to address negative impacts when they are identified.

Step Three

The third step is to identify which of the interventions:

1. Should be changed to avoid negative impacts,

2. Need to be implemented despite negative impacts, which should be in turn

addressed through other short-or long-term interventions, or

3. Should be canceled or avoided due to possible or actual negative impacts.

These determinations will aid in the Consolidation and Analysis process (see Module

Two) and in planning and design. Of course, canceled interventions do not need to be

considered further unless they are judged to have already caused environmental damage.

Note that the Coping Strategy intervention needs to be updated for each disaster. These

coping strategies are likely to be significant in scale and scope (upwards of 80% of disaster

relief can be provided by the survivors themselves), with consequent impacts on the


To the degree possible, the disaster survivors and their neighbors should be involved in

discussions about mitigating the negative environmental impacts of relief activities.

Decisions to accept environmental damage as necessary for effective relief delivery

should not be taken without consultation with survivor representatives if at all


The avoidance/mitigation options listed on the form can require further assessment and

planning, possibly involving specialists and requiring community involvement, to be used

effectively in countering the negative impacts noted. The Key Resource list in Annex A

should be consulted as a starting point for information and advice on ways to avoid or

mitigate environmental impacts.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

REA Module Two: Community Level


Module Summary

The Community Level Assessment focuses on critical environmental issues from the

perspective of communities affected by a disaster. The assessment can either use the direct

collection of information from communities or information collected through other

assessments to complete a simple process to identify environmental issues which are most

prevalent in disaster-affected communities. The process of identifying and prioritizing

community level issues requires one to two days, depending on sources of information and

at least three persons. Approximately one day per community is needed to collect

information direct from a community, with at least two persons in each group working in



Community input into the identification and prioritization of environmental issues during a

disaster is critical to the success of the REA and to the effective overall relief efforts. At one

level, a considerable part of the post-disaster relief effort is undertaken by the disaster

survivors themselves. The REA needs to identify and assess these efforts to anticipate and

help define ways to address any resulting negative environmental impacts.

At another level, a best practice for relief operations is that they take into account the views

and needs expressed by disaster affected populations. A community level assessment of

environmental issues serves to incorporate these views and needs into the REA. This makes

the REA results more representative of the local (as opposed to external organization level)

views of the disaster and its impacts. The overall result is for relief operations to be more

effective since they will respond more closely to the needs and expectations of the disaster


The Community Level Assessment module is intended to assist those doing a REA to

collect and perform a preliminary analysis of community level information to identify critical

environmental issues. The module contains two sections, one dealing with information

collection and the other a simple process for using the information collected to identify

issues. These sections are described below.

Information Collection Options

There are two basic options for collecting information on community perceptions about the

environment and related relief needs and expectations. The first is to use a specifically

designed data collection tool and conduct community level data collection from a sample of

the communities (and groups within these communities as appropriate) in the disaster

affected area.

The second option is to use other assessment efforts to collect needed information, and later

extract the information on environmental issues using a method set out below. Using

another assessment process, for instance those used for a household food security or a

water and sanitation assessment, is possible because most of the information needed on


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

environment-disaster linkages is also collected as part of these types of assessments. 11

(Sources on other types of assessments are provided in Annex A.)

The advantage of a separate REA community level survey is that the assessment process

can focus on a more detailed understanding of environment-disaster linkages from the

community perspective. The disadvantages are the time and resources needed to conduct a

representative survey of communities in the disaster-affected area. At a practical level,

organizations involved in providing relief may not have the time, resources or skilled

personnel to devote to an extensive community survey without compromising the overall

objectives of the emergency relief effort.

The advantage of using another assessment (either planned or already conducted) to collect

REA-related data lie in the efficient use of resources. One assessment serving two purposes

is more efficient than to overlapping assessments. The major disadvantages are that (1) the

other assessments need to cover all the information requirements for the REA (a particular

problem if an already conducted assessment is used) and (2) a depth of information on

environmental issues may not be available from assessments which focus on other issues.

Basically, the information collected in another assessment needs to be sufficient to allow for

the answering of the questions and identification of coping strategies covered in the

Community Assessment Summary form (Annex E). Specific questions which can be used

in other assessments can be gleaned from the Community REA Information Collection

Guide in Annex D.

The choice of one or the other option depends on policies, resources and capacities of the

organization(s) conducting the REA. In most quick onset disasters it is unlikely organizations

will be able to devote time and resources to a stand-alone community level REA

assessment. In these situations, incorporating REA information requirements into other

assessments may be most effective.

There is a greater chance that a stand-alone community level assessment can be done for

slow onset disasters, if only because these types of disasters often clearly involve

environmental issues. However, parallel and competing surveys should be avoided. The

REA assessment should incorporate (or be incorporated into) other assessment efforts

whenever possible. The following three sections of this module discuss a REA-only

community assessment approach.

Questionnaire versus Focused Discussion

The first issue in deciding to collect REA information directly from communities is selecting

which data collection method to use, with a questionnaire or a focused discussion the most

likely options. In the former, a fixed list of questions is asked of one or more groups in the

community and the answers recorded for later use. In the later, communities are presented

with a set of general topics and then allowed to discuss these topics and the resulting

discussion recorded for later use. This later approach is often associated with participatory

rapid appraisal (PRA, see and other

sources listed in Annexes A and G).

The advantage of the focused discussion approach is that participants can openly express

their views without being closely guided by the interviewer. The advantage of the

11 There is a considerable overlap between the REA information needs and a generic livelihood assessment,

although it is unlikely an extensive livelihoods assessment could be done in a rapidly evolving disaster.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

questionnaire approach is that it focuses the information collection effort, making the

collection process more rapid than with open ended discussions. In addition, it takes less

skill to administer a questionnaire than manage a focused discussion, an important

consideration if there is limited time to train surveyors and complete the assessment.

The choice of whether to use the questionnaire or focused discussion approach is strongly

governed by the time available to do the assessment and the skill levels of those who will do

the community assessments. A compromise between the two methods is to use the

questionnaire method but construct as many of the questions as possible in a way which

allows for open-ended answers. 12 This approach allows for the community information

collection process to proceed relatively quickly but provides community members

opportunities to express their views on the topics being raised in the questionnaire.

The following section discusses the questionnaire approach in more detail on the

presumption that this approach is the most convenient in the absence of any other on-going

or already conducted assessment which can be used for this module. However, REA users

should feel free to use the focused discussion or other data collection method more suited to

an organization’s means or the circumstances of a specific disaster. The bottom line is that

whatever method is used, sufficient information to complete the Community Assessment

Summary form in Annex E should be collected from a broad cross section of a community.

Community REA Information Collection Guide

The Community REA Information Collection Guide (Annex D) is a tool which can be

used to rapidly collect information on environmental conditions in a community as well as the

views of community members of these conditions. The guide is organized into seven


1. General information about the community being assessed.

2. Information about the environmental and livelihood conditions in the community

3. Information about disasters which may have affected the community.

4. Whether and how the basic needs are being met.

5. A conclusion section which asks participants for views on the future of their

community and environmental conditions.

6. Specific collection of information on coping strategies which may not have been

collected elsewhere.

7. Observations about the sanitary and general conditions in the community.

The sections of the guide broadly follow the outline of assessment information needs

presented in the Introduction to the Guidelines and collected in the Organization Level

Assessment. As a result, assessment information from organization and communities can

be compared in the Consolidation and Analysis module.

Information collected during the early parts of a community level meeting may answer

questions posed later in the guide. These later questions can be skipped if information

collected earlier in a session makes them redundant.

Community assessment meetings are managed through a group discussion process led by

someone who is not a community member, aided by a translator when appropriate. Of

various methods available, a moderated group discussion structured around the guide is

12 This approach was used in the Ethiopian and Indonesian field test and was fairly successful in terms of time

needed to collect information and the range of information and views collected.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

considered the quickest, requiring the least complicated data collection process. Other

methods can be used when appropriate. For more on information collection methods in a

community, see Annexes F and G and

Ideally, the information collection guide should be used with a broad cross section of a

community. This cross section should include male elders, women, the disabled, youth,

senior citizens, community elders and others to represent the social, cultural and economic

variability of the community surveyed and the objectives of the assessment.

Collecting data (based on the same questions) from community elders and women

separately helps to identify if there is a diversity of views about the environment and disaster

impact within the community. Meetings with other well defined groups within a community

are appropriate if time allows. Group meetings should be complemented by narrative

observations by the team conducting the assessment.

However, immediately after a disaster it is unlikely that a rapid assessment will be able to

conduct more than one group meeting in each community surveyed. The most likely

approach will be to hold a single community meeting at which as many distinct groups in the

community as possible are present, and manage this meeting in such a way as to draw out

the views of these different groups. Annex F (RAP and RRA Techniques in Emergencies)

discusses approaches to rapid information collecting in communities immediately after


Two approaches have proved useful n complementing the large group meeting approach

when time is not available for an in depth assessment. The first is a walk-though of the

community (normally after the group meeting), with time taken to speak to different members

of the community. In this way, the representation of gender, age and social strata in the

assessment can be increased.

The second approach is to hold side meetings during large group meeting. In this approach,

one assessment team member sits apart from the rest of the team and engages people

present at the meeting but who are not speaking by repeating the questions raised by the

leaders of the assessment. This approach tends to work best in large meetings where

discussions are dominated by an individual or small group. 13

It is expected that a single group meeting in a community will take no more than three hours.

This time limit anticipates the need for translation and clarification and that there will be a

moderate level of discussion within a group in establishing a single answer to any questions

posed. Based on experience, the total time in a community (formalities, meeting and followup)

where only one group meeting takes place will be approximately four hours.

The administration of the questionnaire should follow standard community assessment

practice, including transparency and non-discrimination. When possible, personnel

conducting the community sessions should have practical or theoretical background in

community assessment methods. Annex G, and contain useful information on how to

conduct an assessment in a community.

As with the Organization Level Assessment, the community assessment process is

intended to be rapid and lead to an identification of issues related to the environment and

the disaster. These issues may require additional investigation and clarification, but serve

13 The side meeting approached was used effectively to collect women’s views during community

assessment work in Indonesia.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

(initially or later) as input into disaster response planning and operations management.

The minimum staff requirement for the community-level data collection is one person.

However, in most cases it is expected that two persons will conduct the community

meetings, aided by a translator if needed. Ideally, the two persons administering the

questionnaire would be of different gender and have experience in collecting information at

the community level (preferably in PRA methods). Where two people administer the

questionnaire, one should lead the discussions and the second record the answers and

observe the group participating in the session.

A good approach to speeding up the community data process and including as many

communities as possible is to have several teams administer the questionnaire concurrently

to a number of communities. This approach can be useful in increasing the number of

communities reached, particularly when local conditions mean that only one community can

be covered per team per day.

Persons administering the questionnaire should do so in a similar manner. A short training in

PRA methods and the REA process, including a role play with the questionnaire, is

recommended to ensure that all staff involved in the assessment have a similar background

and will use similar methods.

The selection of communities in which to conduct the questionnaire will depend on a number

of factors, including access, the impact of the disaster, time available to do the assessment

and staff availability. It is recommended that communities be selected with input from locally

knowledgeable persons and represent a cross-section of physical, cultural and social

characteristics of a disaster-affected area.

Specific attention should be paid to the logistics and organization of conducting the

community questionnaire. At a minimum:

• The questionnaire should be translated into the language in which it will be

administered and terms and concepts clarified for the team and translator doing the

community visits.

• The administration of the questionnaire should be tested before general use and

those using the questionnaire should practice administering the questionnaire

through a role play or other technique to work out how the questionnaire will be

administered, and answers to expected questions from community members.

• Copies of blank questionnaire forms, writing paper and similar supplies should be

available to each team. Adequate supplies of other resources such as flip chart paper

or maps should be available before the community sessions begin.

• A logistics and security plan should be developed before the community visits begin

and reviewed and shared with appropriate parties. This plan should include call-in

and contact procedures if problems are encountered during or while traveling to and

from communities.

• Each team using the questionnaire should establish roles and tasks within the team,

including who will lead in administering the questionnaire, who will record information

and who will deal with the cultural and courtesy aspects of meeting with a community

group. This can include arranging drinks or contacting local security officials to

explain the nature of the meeting.

• It is best if the assessment results are formally recorded and discussed by the team

at the end of each day. If this is not possible, then a specific time in the assessment

schedule should be set aside for compiling, recording and reviewing the results of the


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

community level meetings.

Recording and Using Information Collected in Communities

Any well done community assessment generates considerable information about past

problems, immediate conditions and plans and expectations of community members about

the relief and recovery process. This information has considerable value beyond the REA. It

has specific uses in project design and recovery planning and in framing longer term

developmental objectives.

As a result, it is necessary that information collected in communities be recorded in a form

and format which permits future use. The results of each community assessment should be

written-up, preferably using a standard data form. A full narrative and statistical report of

assessment results may not be possible immediately after a disaster. But a short summary

of findings should be prepared and circulated to all potentially interested parties.

Each assessment should also have a mechanism to note and pass on issues and

information from communities relating to the effectiveness, transparency and appropriate

allocation of relief and recovery assistance. Any assessment will identify operational gaps

and successes. These need to be signaled to the responsible parties to ensure that the

disaster recovery effort is as effective as possible.

Generating Condensed Community Assessment Information

Information generated through the community assessment needs to be assembled and

condensed into a format similar to that used in the Organization Level Assessment. With

hthe community and organizational information in a similar format, the results of the two

assessments can consolidated for analysis, as described in the following module.

The condensation and prioritization process is accomplished through a three step process

using the Community Assessment Summary form in Annex E. The form contains a set of

questions based on possible environmental issues which may be affecting a community.

Step One

Answer each question with a yes or no using the information from the community


Step Two

The resulting identification of the prevalence of issues is then prioritized by scoring each

answer according to whether the response for a community is a yes or no, as indicated in

the form. Note that the significance of yes and no answers and the respective scoring

changes between different sections of the form.

These scores are then totaled. Questions with the highest values are considered to be the

issues which the greatest prevalence and expected importance from the community


Step Three

Once the scoring and ranking is completed, the final section of the summary form, dealing

with coping strategies and actions, can be completed. In this section, assessment results are

used to identify relief and coping strategies used by the community and enter these actions

in the first column of the form. Each action should be judged as to whether it is having a

positive or negative impact on the environment (second column). Some actions can have


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

both impacts concurrently or at different times. Details on the actions and strategies should

be provided to understand the scope and overall impact of each action.

The rating and ranking process is overly simple as it is intended to quickly extract the

information from the questionnaires for use in the overall REA. The issues identified in the

assessment should be validated with the communities (or community representatives)

through community meetings or other methods as part of a formal project design process.

The same method can be used with the results of other assessments. Based on a review of

the assessment reports or supporting documentation, the questions on the Community

Assessment Summary form are answered and scored as described above and information

on coping strategies and actions entered as indicated.

Personnel Requirements

The Community Assessment Summary form should be completed by a team of at least

three persons. The process works best when all involved have reviewed all the

questionnaires (or other assessment reports) and participate in the consolidation and

ranking process. Ideally, members of the teams which conducted the assessment should

complete the Community Assessment Summary.

The staff, resources and time needed to complete the Community Level Assessment

depend on whether a separate REA questionnaire is used and the number of communities

visited. At a minimum, two information collection teams of two persons each are

recommended, with each requiring a vehicle (and translator if appropriate). Each team can

complete one community per day, with the total time needed to collect data dependent on

the number of communities visited. Completion of the assessment summary can take up to

two days depending on how well the questionnaires are process or if other assessment

materials need to be reviewed. However, with good preparation, the assessment summary

should not take more than one half of a day.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

REA Module Three: Consolidation and Analysis

Module Summary

The Consolidation and Analysis module focuses on critical environmental issues from the

perspective of government, non-government and private relief organizations. The

assessment uses simple tables to list and rank environmental issues identified in the

Organizational and Community Level Assessments or one assessment alone. The

consolidation and analysis process can be completed using only one assessment, but it is

recommended that both assessments be incorporated into the consolidation and analysis

process when possible. The assessment can be completed by an individual, but is best done

by a group of ten to twelve field personnel and can take as little as four hours if a

comparable period is dedicated to preparations.


The purpose of the Consolidation and Analysis module is to develop a single prioritized

list of environmental issues which should be addressed in relief and recovery efforts. The

consolidation and analysis process involves four simple steps. This module is not intended

to generate a detailed report on the REA assessment but provide a simple tabular

presentation of critical issues identified in the assessment and an indication of further action

to address these issues.

Three types of actions are anticipated:

1. The redesign or re-orientation of existing relief or recovery effort, or design new

projects to resolve or mitigate critical issues. An example is changing the location

and manner in which building waste is disposed following an earthquake to limit

ground, water and air pollution.

2. Acquiring additional information to determine the nature, extent or importance of a

specific issue. This information can come from local sources, from within an

organization or from external experts. When additional information is available a

decision on further action can be made (see 1 above or 3 below). An example is a

concern that chemicals in drinking and washing water are toxic and pose an

immediate threat to health. When the nature and level of this issue is defined, a

decision can be made as to whether the issue needs to be addressed through a

project format or advocacy. (See Annex A for sources of information.)

3. Advocacy on behalf of disaster survivors with appropriate authorities or

organizations to address a critical issue. This type of action would be taken when an

issue is outside the scope of ongoing or planned relief or recovery efforts, or where

an issue is directly related to the mandate or legal responsibilities of another

organization. An example is when local government authorities are not enforcing

regulations governing logging and sustainable extraction of forest resources to the

disadvantage of indigenous populations.

Decisions on which actions to take with respect to individual critical issues depend on the

mandate, policies and resources of a specific organization. However, it can be anticipated

that there will be at least one organization with a potential role in addressing any critical


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

issues arising during a disaster and that communities have an important role to play

regardless of the nature of the issue.

Consolidating Issues

Step One

The first step in the consolidation and analysis process is to develop a simple listing of

critical issues identified in the Organization and Community Level Assessments. This is

accomplished by filling in the Issue Consolidation form in Annex H. Ideally three, but no

more than five, of the top ranked issues from each assessment form developed in the two

assessments should be entered into the respective column in the form.

Critical issues identified during the assessment which may not be covered by the issues

listed on the two assessment forms can be entered under Other Critical Issues. These

types of issues are often specific to a location and a particular disaster.

Issues which may not be immediately critical but need to be considered for long-term

recovery should be listed under Recovery Issues. These longer term issues will not be

addressed as part of the REA, but passed on for consideration in the design of longer term

recovery programs.

The point of the consolidation process, and the whole REA effort, is to identify

environment related issues which need immediate attention as part of critical disaster

relief operations. Overloading the consolidation list will prevent the most important issues

being addressed and waste the limited resources available to respond to a disaster.

A single list should be developed by consolidating the two lists on the Issue Consolidation

form. This is most easily done by eliminating any duplication in the issues identified is each

assessment. This duplication can be both from within each assessment (e.g., water being

mentioned several time in the community assessment) or between assessments. Duplicate

items should be marked (e.g., with a star) as they indicate issues which have a higher

frequency, and are likely more important in terms of disaster-environment linkages.

Identification of Critical Issues and Actions

Step Two

The results of the consolidation process should be transferred to a second form dealing with

Issues and Actions (Annex I). This form has three columns, one for the issues

consolidated from the previous form, a second for an initial identification of actions to

address these issues and a third for an overall prioritization of the issues listed. (A fourth

column can be added to indicate who will have responsibility for specific actions if this is


The identification of actions to respond to the critical issues should be based on the three

types of actions summarized above (redesign, re-orient or design a new project, collect more

information, advocacy) and use of a rapid brainstorming approach to quickly identify the next

steps in addressing the issues. Reference should be made to the original assessment

documents if there is a need to clarify the origin and nature of an issue.

At this stage, the focus of the REA is not to completely resolve issues which have been

identified, but to simply identify how best to start addressing an issue. A tendency to make

this step more complicated than necessary should be recognized and avoided.


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The process of identifying actions is less of a challenge for issues which relate directly to

physical tasks and activities, and more of a challenge for issues which are more conceptual

in origin. For instance, identifying an action to address a critical issue caused by poor water

quality and quantity is more straightforward than identifying how to address a critical issue

related to environmental resilience.

In most cases, conceptual issues (which generally come from the Context Statement and

Factors Influencing Environmental Impact sections of the assessments) are addressed

by incorporating them into the manner in which relief and recovery assistance is provided.

For instance, if self-sufficiency is identified as a critical issue, then relief and recovery

activities should be designed and implemented in a way which promotes self-sufficiency.

The items listed under the Recovery Issues section should be documented in a separate

short report to those overseeing the relief and recovery process. Documentation and referral

is important to ensure that information collected during the assessment is not lost and can

have the most positive impact on recovery, reconstruction and development efforts following

a disaster.

In addition to a report, passing on the medium and long term issues identified in the

assessment can be facilitated by holding a short meeting on the REA results for

representatives of organizations which focus on medium and long term post-disaster

assistance. These organizations typically include government planning and disaster

management offices, regional and international lending organization, the UN system of

organization and donors.

Of course, front line assistance organizations themselves should incorporate medium and

long term issues in their own planning and program development. The report-and-meeting

approach can generate interest and funding for in-house efforts to address these issues.

This approach also provides an opportunity to advocate with other front line organizations for

the adoption if issues which may be outside an organization’s own mandate.

Prioritizing Issues and Actions

Step Three

Once actions have been identified the next step is to prioritize the actions based on the

nature of the corresponding issues. This step may not be necessary if only a few issues are

listed. However, the shortage of time and resources, characteristic of a disaster, mean that

some level of formal or informal prioritization will usually be necessary.

The simplest approach to prioritization is to review the issues and actions based on three


1. Does the issue pose an immediate threat to life?

2. Does the issue pose an immediate threat to welfare? or

3. Does the issue pose an immediate threat to the environment?

Issues for which the answer is yes to the first question are given top priority. Among these

issues, the ones involving the greatest threat to live are given the highest priority.

Issues with yes answers to the other questions have correspondingly lower priority for

action, and can be ranked according to the level of threat to welfare or the environment, as



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

The prioritization process should give attention to issues which were mentioned more than

once at the consolidation stage (e.g. marked with a star). These issues are more likely to be

of greater importance to communities and assistance providers and should be given priority

within each priority category (i.e., threat to life, welfare or the environment).

A large number of critical issues remain after an initial REA may be due to the lack of

information on the issues and factors covered in the assessment. However, if a large

number of issues remain after several revisions of the REA, this may indicate that relief

operations are facing significant operational problems or that little or no attention is being

paid to environmental issues.

This situation should be called to the attention of senior management within the organization

doing the REA and those overseeing the overall relief operation. These operational

problems and lack of attention to environmental issues may themselves become a topic of


Reviewing Environmental Consequences of Relief Operations

Step Four

A review of possible environmental consequences of on-going or planned relief operations is

conducted in Section Five of Module One. This review needs to be conducted again once

the specific actions are identified as a result of the consolidation and analysis process.

The review process is the same as set out in Section Five/Module One and based on

completing Form 4 in Annex B. Unanticipated or unwanted negative environmental impacts

should be addressed by changes to the manner or nature of proposed actions and

interventions. The environmental impact review should be conducted for each new action or

intervention identified in the consolidation and analysis stage of the assessment.

Planning and Resources

The consolidation and analysis process can be done by an individual, but is recommended

to be done by the persons who participated in the Organization and Community Level

Assessments. An open forum discussion format is ideal for presentation of the issues to be

consolidated, brainstorming on actions and prioritization. The use of flip charts, overheads or

computer generated projections will facilitate the consolidation and prioritization process and

the recording of the final results.

The time needed to complete the consolidation and prioritization process can range from

several hours to several days. Factors affecting the length of this process include participant

familiarity with the assessment information, the complexity of the issues identified, the extent

of preparation for the group session, the group management skills of the assessment leader

and time needed to write up the results. Good preparation and group management skills

should reduce the consolidation and prioritization process to less than one half day even in a

disaster resulting in a number of complex environmental issues.

Using Assessment Results

Using the REA results in project planning and design is the same as using the products of

other assessment tools. The results of the Guidelines-based assessment should be

combined with other assessments (for instance, of household food security or health and

sanitation) to develop a clear problem statement, goal and objectives addressing the specific


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

problems which have been identified. 14

In many cases, issues identified in the REA assessment relate directly to issues identified in

other types of assessments, although the resulting problem statements and solutions

(objectives) are not always specifically environmental in approach or process. Where the

REA process, Guidelines results and environmental focus add value in the project design

process is through a continued attention on environmental impacts and the provision of an

environmental focus for relief plans and projects.

Updating the REA Results

Updating the REA results involves a relatively simple process of verifying whether new

issues can be classified as priorities by the three questions (impact on life, welfare or the

environment) presented above. As a disaster evolves, the nature and importance of

environmental issues will change, as will priorities for relief and recovery efforts. As a result,

the whole REA assessment needs to be update regularly, and should eventually evolve into

a formal EIA for longer term recovery and reconstruction programs.

14 The subject of emergency project design is too broad to be covered in this document Reference can be made

to The Oxfam Handbook of Development and Relief (Oxfam, 1995) or the Library pages at for

further guidance on emergency project design.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

REA Module Four: Green Review of Relief

Procurement 15

Module Summary

The Green Review of Relief Procurement module focuses on a screening of the

procurement of materials and services to ensure that these procurements have the least

negative environmental impact possible under emergency procurement conditions. This

assessment can be done independent of other modules of the REA, but is closely linked to

Section Five (Negative Environmental Consequences of Relief Activities) of the

Organization Level Assessment. The Green Review can be done by an individual or

group. The Review will not add measurably to time required for procurement if integrated

into the normal procurement planning and review process.


Possible negative environmental impacts of relief assistance are covered under Section

Five of the Organization Level Assessment module. However, this level of the

assessment is fairly broad and cannot be used to screen each item or service procured in

the relief effort. The Green Review of Relief Procurement module provides a means,

through the use of a simple check list, to screen individual procurement actions to ensure

that these procurement result in the least possible negative impact on the environment. Also

provided in this module is background on Green (or Sustainable) procurement and how the

concept can be more generally applied to relief operations.

To date, green procurement appears to be largely a local and unconnected phenomenon for

relief and development organizations. The UNHCR and WFP have green procurement

policies and procedures, but the extent to which these are followed internally or are required

to be followed by partners is unclear. Similar policies of other donors either don’t exist, are

not well known or regularly followed.

NGOs in general do not appear to give much attention to green procurement in emergency

response or development activities. Exceptions include CARE and other NGOs in

Bangladesh, which have taken steps to make their disaster assistance more “green”, for

instance reducing the use of plastic in the packaging of relief supplies. At the same time,

green procurement is an area where relatively easy positive environmental gains can be

achieved at minimal cost, or even cost savings.

Green Procurement

Green procurement is basically the

...selection of products and services that minimize environmental impacts. It requires

a company or organization to carry out an assessment of the environmental

consequences of a product at all the various stages of its lifecycle. This means

considering the costs of securing raw materials, and manufacturing, transporting,

storing, handling, using and disposing of the product.

15 Redrafted from a memo on green procurement prepared for CARE Ethiopia, 31 October 2003.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Green procurement is rooted in the principle of pollution prevention, which strives to

eliminate or to reduce risks to human health and the environment. It means

evaluating purchases based on a variety of criteria, ranging from the necessity of the

purchase in the first place to the options available for its eventual disposal. (From

Green Procurement,

Green procurement is part of the Sustainable Procurement approach promoted by the

UNEP, whereby

... organizations buy supplies or services by taking into account:

• the best value for money considerations such as price, quality, availability,

functionality, etc.;

• environmental aspects ("green procurement": the effects on the environment that the

product and/or service has over its whole lifecycle, from cradle to the grave);

• the entire Life Cycle of products;

• social aspects: effects on issues such as poverty eradication, international equity in

the distribution of resources, labor conditions, human rights. (From Sustainable


The Sustainable Procurement approach goes beyond green procurement and requires

consideration of social impacts. This broader view can be integrated into a rights-based

approach to identifying, procuring and providing assistance.

A common tangible impact of green procurement is lower expenses for such things as fuel,

utilities, supplies and maintenance. These savings usually off-set higher costs associated

with procuring an item or resource with a lower negative impact on the environment. The

bottom-line impact of savings exceeding costs is why many large businesses have adopted

green procurement.

NGOs don’t have a profit rational for pursuing green procurement. NGOs do have an

obligation to use donated funds as wisely as possible. Wise use can mean (1) making funds

go as far as possible, typically by holding down expenses, and (2) not spending funds today

in ways which will result in otherwise avoidable expenses in the future, as would be the case

if procurement led to avoidable environmental damage.

Conceptually, green procurement involves

...applying the 4 R's methodology (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover) at each

phase of the materiel life-cycle (planning, acquisition, operations, utilization and

maintenance, and disposal), procurement activities can be more environmentally

responsible. When purchasing, environmental considerations should be integrated

with other criteria such as performance, life expectancy, quality, and value for money

(cost), as far as possible. (From Green Procurement Checklist,

Green Procurement in Disasters

The challenge of green procurement in emergency response is to manage the process of

selecting a greener product or service in a way which does not delay the provision of

assistance. Unlike normal green procurement, urgency can override the environmental

impact-like process normally used to select the most environmentally positive product or



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

The urgency-in-emergency reality means that much in the way of identifying and selecting

more environmentally positive products and services should be done before a disaster as

part of the preparedness and planning process. This pre-disaster process can follow the

“4R” process summarized above and the procurement review checklist contained at the

Green Procurement Checklist noted above (see Greener Procurement,

Also see Environmentally

Preferable Purchasing at

Four areas in which greener procurement criteria can be applied to emergency procurement

are summarized below. These focus areas are drawn from work by WFP, UNHCR and other


Energy Efficient Equipment

The focus here is on equipment which is designed to use less energy, such as by

automatically going into a sleep mode when not being used. The best examples are copiers

and “Green Star” computer equipment. Other energy efficient-rated equipment include items

like refrigerators and air conditioners, which may have an “EnerGuide” label, or provide

energy rating information on labels.

A focus on energy efficient equipment includes vehicles. Preference should be given to

buying vehicles with which can provide greater kilometers per liter of fuel. The size of a

vehicle (often a good indicator of fuel efficiency) should be matched with the expected task.

A large 4x4 vehicle, and its higher fuel consumption and operating cost, is not needed if all

the vehicle will be used for is running around a capital city.

Waste Reduction

As with the Bangladesh example, the idea is to reduce unnecessary waste, usually by

reducing, changing or eliminating packaging. Waste reduction also means not providing

unnecessary or unusable assistance, or food that people throw away for that matter.

Waste reduction also covers recurrent management (e.g., vehicle maintenance) and site

management (e.g., buildings). For example, a vehicle which leaks oil is wasting oil and an

office with air conditioners and open windows wastes energy. This aspect of waste reduction

is less in the procurement domain that in those of fleet and facility maintenance 16 .


Attention to recycling usually focuses on finding new or alternate uses for once-used items.

The use of scrap office paper is a good example, and should likely be institutionalized.

The recycling focus goes further to include purchasing items which have been recycled

(printer cartridges) or include recycled parts (some computers) or material (e.g., copy paper

and envelopes). The recycling focus basically comes down to two questions:

1. Is there another use for this item once it is no longer needed for the reason it was

bought, and

2. Does this item include recycled sections?

Complementing both questions is whether items can be recycled to the provider, as can be

the case with printer cartridges, or other re-users.

16 Separate from, but related to, green procurement is green management, including tasks like ensuring vehicles

are well maintained (and thus use less fuel), windows and doors work (to keep in or out cool air) and in-office



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Reduce Energy Requirements

This area is similar to energy efficient equipment, but the focus is on minimizing the downstream

energy requirements needed to use assistance items. For instance, reducing energy

requirements can be accomplished by providing food aid which requires the least energy

possible to prepare at the beneficiary level. An example is milling maize before distribution,

where this milling requires less energy and results in less short-term damage to the

environment than preparation and cooking at the user level.

Green Procurement in Emergencies Checklist

The elaborate review process to define the sustainability or greenness of a procurement

used in normal times will not work in emergencies. In disaster conditions, the objective is to

procure the greenest or most sustainable items without compromising the assistance effort.

The best way to do this is to use a simple yes/no screening process based on the focus

areas summarized above. This approach has been formalized into the following checklist.

The checklist can be complete for each item or class of items to be procured. The best point

at which to complete the checklist is when the results of needs assessments are being

turned into assistance requests.

Alternatively, the checklist can be used by procurement staff to try to select the greenest

product or service from a range of available options. Use by procurement staff would, of

course, require ensuring that an item or service eventually selected was acceptable to field

staff and beneficiaries.

Greenness Procurement Screening Checklist

Question Yes No Not


Is the piece of equipment selected rated as the most energy

efficient of the type of items needed and available?

Is the least possible packaging used?

Have field personnel or beneficiaries identified this item or

service as critical with a high likelihood of being used in

during the disaster?

Does the item or service to be procured include recycled

parts or materials, and are these parts and materials more

costly than alternate items or services?

Can the item (and packaging) selected for procurement be

reused or recycled after it is no longer needed for the


Will the supplier take back, or can another business be sold

the item and recycle it, when it is no longer needed for the


Have alternate, environmentally friendly, energy sources

been chosen when they are economically justified and can

be supported by local capacities?

Do the items or services being procured require the lowest

possible energy for proper and safe use by disaster



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Answering “no” does not preclude procuring an item or service. A “no” answer does

indicate that other items or services might be better if they can be secured without

delaying the delivery of relief assistance.

In some cases, more green items are available, but at a higher cost. For some

organizations, environmental impact can be considered as part of the cost review of

procurement actions, and a higher cost justified on this basis.

Answering “no” to one of the questions in the list also indicates that actions will likely be

needed to address environmental impacts which occurred because the least environmentally

negative item could not be procured. These impact mitigation actions need to be

incorporated into relief and recovery planning to mitigate or remediate any negative

environmental consequences.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex A Key Resources


Web Resources

• Disaster Studies and Management: Background

documents on the REA Project.

• Biodiversity Support Program (also available as CD).

• Environmental Assessment Capacity Building Program.

• Resource and procedure

documents on environmental impact assessments, including but not limited to food

aid activities.

• Participatory rapid appraisal information

and links.

• Online source of many humanitarian assistance

related documents.

• World Environmental Library, Medical and Health Library,

Collection on Critical Global Issues (also available as CDs)

• Information and resources on impact assessments.

• Information on current disasters, background on past

disasters and assistance, library of key documents and links to other organizations

involved in disaster management.

• Link to UNEP/OCHA office, with useful

background information and numerous links to other disaster-related sites.

• Sphere project materials and Handbook.

• Links to environmental background resources and APELL

program on preparedness for technological emergencies.


Information on environmental impact of refugees, applicable to displaced populations

in general.

• Participatory rapid appraisal and related


• additional information on

participatory rapid appraisal.

Document Resources

• Australian Emergency Management Glossary,

• Confronting Disaster: New Perspectives on Natural Disasters, Alexander, D., Oxford

University Press, Oxford, 2000.

• A Directory of Impact Assessment Guidelines, Roe, D., B. Dalal-Clayton, and R.

Hughes, Environmental Planning Group, International Institute for Environment and

Development, Nottingham, U.K. 1995.

• Emergency Vector Control After Natural Disaster: Scientific Publication No. 419; Pan


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

American Health Organization, Washington, 1982.

• Emergency Vector Control Using Chemicals, Christophe Lacarin and Rob Reed,

Water, Engineering and Development Centre, Loughborough University, 1999


• Engineering in Emergencies, A Practical Guide for Relief Workers, Davis, J. and

Robert Lambert, IT Publications (for “RedR”), London, 1995.

Environmental Documentation Manual, For P.L. 480 Title II Cooperating Sponsors

Implementing Food-Aided Development Programs, Second Edition, Environmental

Working Group, Food Aid Management, USAID, January 1999

Environmental Guidelines for Irrigation, Tillman, R. E., U.S. Man and the Biosphere

Programme; USAID, 1981.

Environmental Guidelines for PVOs and NGOs: Potable Water and Sanitation

Projects, Wyatt A., William Hogrewe and Eugene Brantly, Water and Sanitation for

Health (WASH), for USAID Mission to Dominican Republic, (WASH Task No. 383),


Environmental Guidelines for USAID Financed Housing Projects, Myton, B., Jennifer

Myton and Claudia Quintanilla, USAID Honduras, 1999.

Environmental Indicator Framework: A Monitoring System for Environment-Related

Activities in Refugee Operations (User Guide), Engineering and Environmental

Services Section (EESS) UNHCR, Geneva, 2002.

Environmental Management Field Handbook for Rural Road Improvement Projects,

Khan, M. K., and K. Fitzcharles, CARE Bangladesh, USAID, 1998.

Environmental Sourcebook for Micro-finance Institutions, Pallen, D., Asia Branch,

Canadian International Development Agency, 1997.

Environmentally-friendlier Procurement Guidelines, UNHCR, 1997.

• Field Operations Guide for Disaster Assessment and Response, Office of Foreign

Disaster Assistance, USAID, no date (current version available in the OFDA section


• Food/Cash for Work Intervention in Famine Mitigation, Bryson, J. and Steve Hansch,

Famine Mitigation Strategy Paper, Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness Division,

OFDA/USDA Famine Mitigation Activity, Washington, 1993.

• Guidance Notes on Participation And Accountability, Twigg, J., Mihir Bhatt, Anne

Eyre, Roger Jones, Emmanuel Luna, Kuda Murwira, José Sato, and Ben Wisner,

Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre, University College London, London, 2001.

Guidelines For Environmental Assessment Following Chemical Emergencies,

Bishop, J., Joint UNEP/OCHA Environmental Unit, United Nations, Geneva, 1999.

• Healthcare Waste Management: A Who Handbook for the Safe Handling, Treatment

and Disposal of Wastes, World Health Organization, 1997.

• Handbook on Environmental Assessment (draft), Ron Bisset, UNHCR, Geneva,


• Hygiene Promotion: A Practical Manual for Relief and Development, Ferron, S., J.

Morgan and M. O’Reilly, Intermediate Technology Publications, 2000.

• Mitigation Practitioners’ Handbook, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Bureau of

Humanitarian Response, USAID, Washington, 1998.

• The Oxfam Handbook of Development and Relief, (Vol. 1), Eade, D. and Suzanne


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Williams, Oxfam UK and Ireland, 1995.

Rapid Assessment Procedures - Qualitative Methodologies for Planning and

Evaluation of Health Related Programmes, Nevin S. Scrimshaw and Gary R.

Gleason, Editors, International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries,

Boston, 1992. Available at

• Safe Water Systems for the Developing World: A Handbook for Implementing

Household-based Water Treatments and Safe Storage Projects, CARE, Centers for

Disease Control, Pan American Health Organization, no date.

• Selected Bibliography of Food Security Resource Center Resources on

Environmental Issues, Graef, J., Food Aid Management (, 1998.

• Trainer's Guide on Environmental Assessment of Industrial Townships, prepared by

SEEDS for the Indian Human Settlements Programme, Housing and Urban

Development Corporation, India, 1995.

• The World Bank Participatory Source Book, World Bank Group. No date.

• World Directory of Country Environmental Studies, World Resources Institute, No



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex B Organization Level Assessment Forms

Context Statement

1. Provide three short paragraphs which summarize the (1) cause/s and most evident

impacts of the disaster, (2) whether the weather or other conditions at the disaster

site will change and if these changes will affect environmental conditions and relief

needs, and (3) priority disaster relief efforts and specific programmatic areas of

interest to the party completing the REA.

These three paragraphs ensure that the group completing the REA is in agreement

as to the nature of the disaster and response priorities. In addition, the paragraphs

identify what types of assistance the group completing the REA anticipates providing

(e.g., health care for a medical NGO). This organizational mandate defines which

issues identified in the REA will receive direct attention and be flagged for the

attention of other organizations.

2. What sources are likely to be able to provide information on the environment in the

area affected by the disaster? Provide contact information and a description of the

information available if possible. (A simple table with three columns covering information

sources, a short description of the information and contact information is sufficient to answer

this question.)

Sources to consider:

• Affected communities and key local resource persons.

• Local, regional and national government environment, development and planning


• Trade associations (local, national and international).

• Local industry.

• Universities, including programs covering the Environment, Agriculture,

Development, Urbanization, Planning, Geography, and Public Health, among


• NGOs, particularly local and international environmental NGOs.

• UN System, particularly UNEP, UNDP, WHO (health and sanitation), FAO (agrochemicals

and agro-bio-diversity information), ILO (worker health), UNICEF

(women and children) and others.

• Donors with development projects in the disaster area, including international

financial organizations (e.g., World Bank, Asia Development Bank).

List existing data collection systems and contact information for local specialists. The

answers to this question should be updated as the relief operation progresses.

3. Have there been, or are there currently, concerns about the release of potentially

toxic substances affecting humans or the environment? If yes, summarize the

information available and indicate how additional information can be collected.

The answer to this question should include input from disaster survivors as well as

local government and assistance organizations if at all possible.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

If the answer is yes it is likely that specialist technical advice and assistance will be

needed to assess the impact and remediation of the releases.

Note whether these concerns are related to the disaster or not. It may be that after a

disaster a community or group of disaster survivors are more worried about a preexisting

threat to their environment than the damage caused by the disaster. These

pre-existing concerns may be major drivers in how the survivors wish to respond to

the disaster. A delicate balance may be needed between responding to the

immediate disaster impact and problems existing before the disaster.

Consider whether this is an action you wish to initiate. If yes, formulate an initial request for

assistance that briefly describes the disaster, the nature of the toxic substances

released or which may be released, the location of the release site and local

contacts 17 .

4. Are there environmentally unique sites in the disaster area and have any been (or

may be) affected directly or indirectly by the disaster?

An environmentally unique site is broadly any location where environmental

conditions are significantly different from surrounding areas. These include

concentration of industry, mines, nature reserves, natural parks, areas of unique biodiversity

or natural resources and, in many cases, historical and cultural sites.

If the answer to this question is yes, it is likely that technical advice and assistance

will be needed to assess and address environmental impacts in or arising from the

uniqueness of these sites.

Note that this question can cover a wide range of sites. Impacts can be direct (damaged

buildings) or indirect (lack of electricity), and include impacts arising from a site (a

chemical release from a factory) or impacts on a site (chemicals flowing into a river

containing an endangered species).

A list of the locations, uniqueness (e.g., nature of industrial process or endangered

species) and expected or known impacts of the disaster should be developed. The

list should include contact information for those persons or organizations responsible

for managing or knowledgeable about the sites.

Consider whether this is an action you wish to initiate. If yes, formulate an initial request for

assistance that briefly describes the disaster and the nature and location of concern.

Before making a request for assistance, attempt to contact the organization or

individuals responsible for the site and ascertain what other assistance may be

available and whether additional assistance is required 18 .

Note that mines and industrial sites may have in-house capacities to deal with

potential environmental problems following a disaster. These capacities (and any

from the government) should be taken into account in considering whether to initiate

a separate response or to work collaboratively with the affected organization. Similar

sources of in-house and government capacities are less likely for other

environmentally unique sites, but should be investigated.

17 For industrial sites or technology-based problems, see Guidelines for Environmental Assessment Following

Chemical Emergencies, Joseph Bishop, Joint UNEP/ECHO Environmental Unit, United Nations, Geneva, for

guidance on hazardous incident reporting.

18 See footnote 6.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

5. Are there any concerns about the environmental impact of the disaster on the part

of the survivors or neighboring communities? Briefly describe the nature and cause

of the local concern and link to the disaster for each problem noted.

Answering this question requires contact with disaster survivors or those with close

knowledge of the disaster survivors, for instance, staff of local environmental NGOs.

The preference is for contact directly with the disaster survivors through, for instance,

a community-level disaster impact assessment. Alternately, or before communitylevel

assessments can be completed, information on local concerns about the

disaster and the environment can be available from those who are in close contact

with the affected communities or groups.

Environmental concerns on the part of the survivors or neighboring communities (the

most immediate source of assistance) will be major drivers in framing the local

response to the disaster. Disregarding these concerns risks creating a gap between

external and internal response and reduces the effectiveness of relief operations. In

addition, environmental concerns which existed before a disaster will likely be

exacerbated by the disaster, and thus likely priority areas for intervention.

6. Are there any local or national laws, or donor or organizational policies and

procedures which impact how environmental issues will be assessed or managed? If

yes, summarize the requirements and how they will be addressed.

Specific details of local and national laws and regulations may not readily be known

to those involved in a disaster and require additional investigation. Donor and

organizational policies should be known, or easily accessible, to those completing the

REA. Normal rules, regulations and procedures related to the environment are often

waived in disaster situations, but should be followed as closely as possible during a



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Rating Form 1: Factors Influencing Environmental Impacts


Number of persons

affected (relative to total

population in disaster


Duration: Time since onset

of disaster.

Concentration of the

affected population.

Distance disaster survivors

have moved since the

beginning of the disaster.

Self-Sufficiency: After the

start of the disaster, the

ability of survivors to meet

needs without recourse to

additional direct extraction

from the environment or

external assistance.

Social solidarity:

Solidarity between disaster

survivors and non-affected


Cultural homogeneity:

The similarity of cultural

beliefs and practices

between disaster survivors

and non-affected


Asset distribution: The

distribution of economic

and other assets within

disaster affected population

after the start of the


Livelihood options: The

number of options that

disaster survivors have to

assure their livelihoods

after the start of the


Few (10)

to Many



period (10)

to Long

period (1)

Low (10)

to High (1)

Short (10)

to Far (1)

High (10)

to Low (1)

High (10)

to Low (1)

High (10)

to Low (1)



(10) to



ed (1)

More (10)

to Fewer




(Low rating



priority for



The greater number affected

the greater potential impact

on the environment.

The longer the disaster the

greater the potential impact

on the environment.

The more concentrated (or

dense) the living conditions of

the survivors, the greater

potential impact.

The further survivors have to

move, the greater the

potential impact on the


Low self-sufficiency after the

disaster implies greater risk of

damage to the environment.

Low solidarity may indicate

the likelihood of conflict over

resources and limits to the

ability of survivors to meet


A lack of common cultural

structure may result in

disagreement over resource


Concentration of assets with

one part of a population can

lead to tensions with less-well

endowed groups over use of

environmental assets.

The fewer the number of

livelihood options indicates

the disaster survivors may

pose higher pressure upon

fewer resources of the

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003


Range Rating

(Low rating



priority for



disaster. environment.

Expectations: The level of

assistance (local and

external) which the disaster

survivors expect to need to


Availability of natural

resources, or whether the

available natural resources

meet the needs of the

disaster survivors in a way

which can continue without

degradation to the

environment or future

availability of the


Capacity to absorb

waste: The environmental,

social and physical

structures available to

handle waste produced by

the survivors.


Resilience: Ability of ecosystem

to rebound from the

disaster itself and from

relief and recovery

activities which cause

environmental damage.

Low (10) to

High (1)

High (10)

to Low (1)

High (10)

to Low (1)

High (10)

to Low (1)


In the absence of adequate

assistance, high expectations

can lead to high demand on

local resources.

Excessive use of natural

resources leads to

environment damage. Relief

can be used to reduce

excessive resource demand

or repair damage done to the

environment. The resources

in question are water (for

human consumption and for

other uses), forest resources

(timber, firewood), agriculture

land (soil and water quality),

et cetera.

Low waste absorptive

capacity will lead to

environmental damage.

Low resilience likely means

high fragility and greater

possibility of long-term

environmental damage.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Rating Form 2: Environmental Threats of Disasters 19


Flooding: Transport of

contaminated sediment.

Sediment contains

hazardous organic or

inorganic chemicals

(including high levels of


Secondary risk from

sediment when dried after

a flood.

Flooding: Polluted

Water. Water contains

hazardous pathogens, or


Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

Chemicals (including salt)

present at levels

exceeding acceptable


Pathogens or chemicals

present at levels which

exceed acceptable


Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

19 Note that Hurricane/Cyclone/Typhoon should be treated under each impact agent: flooding, sea surge, and wind.

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

1. Identify and assess level of

chemicals present.

2. Limit use of water sources with

contaminated sediment and

plants and animals collected

from these sites.

3. Specialized technical assistance

likely needed for assessment

and planning.

1. Identify and assess level of

pathogens or chemicals present.

2. Limit use of contaminated water

and plants and animals collected

from contaminated water.

3. Consider water purification to

meet immediate needs.

4. Specialized technical assistance

likely needed for assessment

and planning.


Flooding: Transport of

contaminated solids other

than sediment. Flood

waters contain physical

items which pose a

threat, including but not

limited to, animal

carcasses and hazardous

materials containers.

Flooding: Erosion

(water). Flood waters

remove usable soil and

cover usable land with


Flooding: Damage to

Infrastructure (from

erosion or force of flood

waters). Flood waters

damage or destroy built

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

1. Presence of dead


2. Presence of hazardous

chemical containers.

3. Presence of significant

level of floating debris in

flood waters.

1. Loss of critical

infrastructure, e.g., dikes,

irrigation system.

2. Loss of immediately

productive land, e.g., land

for cultivation or

harvesting natural


Damage which (1)

seriously limits or stops

use of critical

infrastructure, including

roads, water treatment,

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

1. Quantify number and volume of

solids by three threat types

(animals, hazardous chemical

containers, other debris).

2. Develop and publicize ways to

deal with solids. Consider

special collection and safety

activities, and ensure safe

disposal procedures and


3. Specialized technical assistance

likely needed for assessment

and planning and in handling


1. Remove or protect infrastructure

under threat.

2. Remove plants and other

productive assets from flooded

land before loss or coverage

with sediment.

3. Remove sediment after flooding.

4. Specialized assistance likely


1. Replace or remove infrastructure

under threat.

2. Flood-proof and decommission

sites at risk.

3. Identify nature of potential or


environment, limiting

operation of critical

functions (e.g., safe water

delivery), or increasing

risk of pollution (e.g.,

damage to sewage

treatment plant).

Wind, including tornados.

Damage/loss of crops,

land cover and


Wild Fire: Damage to

Infrastructure. Wild fire

can damage or destroy

infrastructure, limiting

operation of critical

functions or increasing

risk of pollution.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

power, emergency

services, or (2) creates

potential sources of

pollution, e.g., industrial

or mining sites, oil and

gas transmission

systems, garbage dumps,

and chemical waste sites.

Reduced food supply,

economic (exploitable)

natural resources and

infrastructure, specifically

shelter and public and

commercial facilities.

Damage which (1)

significantly limits or stops

use of critical

infrastructure, including

roads, water treatment,

power, emergency

services, or (2) affects

control systems for

industrial sites, e.g.,

power supply to a

chemical factory.

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

actual pollution due to

flooding/flood damage and

develop response plans (see


4. Specialized assistance likely

needed for any significant


1. Short-term food and economic

assistance to assist survivors

until vegetation/crops recover or

are replanted.

2. Assistance to replace/repair

damaged infrastructure.

3. Dispose of debris in manner that

does not increase air, land or

water pollution.

1. Remove or decommission

infrastructure under threat.

2. Identify potential or actual

pollution due to wildfire damage

and develop response plans

(see above).

3. Specialized assistance likely

needed for any significant



Wild Fire: Air Pollution.

Air contains hazardous

chemicals and high

concentrations of

particulate matter.

Wild Fire: Erosion

(following fire). Wildfire

removes land cover

leading to increased


Wild Fire: Loss of

Habitat. Wildfire damages

or destroys habitat

resulting in negative

impact on species using

habitat before fire.

Drought: Wind.

Unusually dry land more

susceptible to aeolian

(wind) erosion.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

Chemicals and/or

particulate matter present

at levels which exceed

acceptable standards.

Immediate threat to (1)

critical infrastructure, or

(2) habitats providing food

and income to disaster


Lack of alternative

habitats for species under


Significant dust clouds

and evidence of wind

movement of soils (e.g.,

soil forming dunes)

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

1. Identify and assess level of

chemicals or particulate matter


2. Develop methods to purify air for

individual and indoor use, with

focus on persons with air-related

health problem.

3. Technical assistance probably

needed for assessment and


1. Institute erosion control


2. Identify and reinforce/remove

critical infrastructure under


1. Institute activities to restore or

modify damaged habitat.

2. Make alternate habitats

available to species under


1. Wind erosion control measures.

2. Shift to drought-tolerant

crops/ground cover.


Drought: Wind. Chemical

composition of dust.

Drought: Wind. Drying

effect of wind on

vegetation (failure to

mature, increased

likelihood of fire).

Drought: Drying of

Crops. Lack of water

(from rainfall or

irrigations) for normal

crop development.

Drought: Drying of water

courses and lakes/ponds.

1. Lack of water supply

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

Chemicals present at

levels which exceed

acceptable standards.

Vegetation drying faster

than normal.

Insufficient water for

normal crop grown. Note

that impact can due to a

lack in total amount of

water available, or

periods of a lack or

insufficient of water at

critical crop development


1. Water less than 15

liters per person per day.

2. Increase in skin and

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

1. Identify and assess level of

chemicals present.

2. Limit movement of dust and

institute measures to limit dust

inhalation (see above and under


3. Specialized assistance likely

needed for assessment.

1. Institute modified cultivation or

harvesting procedures, e.g.,

early harvesting, irrigation.

2. Develop fire management plan,

including fire breaks, training

and bio-mass reduction.

1. As above.

2. Implement water conservation

methods, e.g., mulching.

3. Consider temporary reallocation

of available water supplies to

ensure proper crop development

(for irrigation-dependent crops).

4. Identify alternate used for crops

which do not mature properly,

e.g., as livestock feed.

1. Improve supply and quality of


2. Monitor and respond to health


for personal and

commercial uses.

2. Increase health


3. Decease in water


4. Loss of income/food

supply sources.

Hail. Damage to crops

and land cover.

Snow, including

associated high winds,

and ice storms (unusually

heavy or persistent).

1. Damage to

infrastructure and natural


2. Limiting access to

fields and other natural


3. Heavy runoff.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

other sanitation-related

diseases above predrought


3. Water does not meet



4. Significant reduction of

food supply or income.

Loss of food supply and

economic (exploitable)

natural resources.

Snow or ice presence, in

time or quantity, above


Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options


3. Develop alternative sources of

food and income.

1. Short-term food and economic

assistance to assist survivors

until vegetation/crops recover or

are replanted.

2. Dispose of damaged vegetation

in manner that does not increase

air, land or water pollution.

1. Implement snow safety activities

to protect infrastructure from


2. Shift crops and planting methods

to take into account late planting

and soil moisture conditions.

3. Develop water management

plan for runoff, including erosion

prevention and flood


4. Develop management plan for

damaged vegetation and snow



Phytosanitary (Pest)

Outbreak. Damage to

economic crops from

pests or disease.

Disease. Human

Mortality and morbidity

reducing social and

economic activity and

increasing personal


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

Damage significantly

above normal 20 .

Disease incidence

significantly above

normal. Note that specific

criteria and methods exist

to determine if an

epidemic is occurring or a

threat, and should be

used to assess threat


Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

1. Integrated pest management

methods, with agro-chemical

application as appropriate.

Procedures for safer use of

agro-chemicals should be

followed (including user

education) and containers

disposed of according to

international standards.

2. For medium to large scale pest

disaster it is likely that special

technical assistance and

program management will be


Disease control-related measures

focusing on environmental factors

such as water supply and quality,

sanitation, pollution reduction and

living condition (e. g., other

hazards like flooding or crowded

conditions). Many responses are

likely to be common sense and

relate to other threats to disaster



“Normal” is usually defined as average recorded losses over specific period. Can also be assessed based on qualitative assessment of agriculture

community as to whether losses are significantly above normal.


Disease. Epizootia

(animal, not human)

Mortality and morbidity of

non-human animals

affecting food intake,

assets and increasing

personal hardship.

Land Mass Movement,

including land slides,

slumps, and other down

slope movement.

1. Direct damage to

infrastructure and natural


2. Direct or indirect

pollution of water



1. Damage to critical

infrastructure, leading to

(i) threat to or loss of life

and injuries, or (ii)

hazardous materials

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

Disease incidence

significantly above

normal. Note that specific

criteria and methods exist

to determine if an

epidemic is occurring or a

threat, and should be

used to assess threat


1. Damage to

infrastructure or other


2. Significant increase in

water sediment load.

1. Human death or injury

2. Any hazardous

materials release.

3. Any damage that stops

or significantly slows the

delivery of critical

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

1. Improving water supply and

quality, sanitation, pollution

reduction and living condition, e.

g., crowded conditions.

2. Safe and environmentally sound

disposal of dead animals.

3. The general lack of experience

with animal health emergencies

indicates specialized technical

assistance will be needed

throughout the response.

1. Remove infrastructure at risk.

2. Install containment structures

and filtration systems for

contaminated water.

3. Specialist assistance is likely to

be required to plan response.

1. Develop rescue plans (best

done before the disaster).

2. Develop and implement

hazardous materials response

plans (best done before the




2. Changes in land forms

(e.g., mass movement)

Volcano: Superheated

ash, gas flows and large

scale explosions. Rapid

destruction of


Volcano: Ash falls

(including materials

deposited following a

massive explosion) and

lava flows. Covering

and/or destruction of

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

services (water, health

care, power, gas, heating,


4. Any land form change

due to the earthquake.

Volcano producing

ash/gas clouds or

evidence of large scale

explosions in the past.

1. Significant loss of

productive assets or


2. Air or water quality

below standards.

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

3. Respond to damage to

infrastructure as per other


4. Respond to land form changes

as per “Mass Movements”.

5. Develop solid waste disposal

plan, including procedures for

recycling as much waste as

possible and minimizing air and

water pollution and ensuring

sanitary landfill standards are


6. Specialized technical assistance

is likely to be required in design

of waste disposal plan.

1. Establish safety zones around

volcano and attempt to limit

human and other access to high

risk areas.

2. Likely require specialized

assistance to assess nature of

volcano, high risk areas and

effective safety precaution.

1. Identity area at risk from ash

falls and lava flows before

eruption and implement

evacuation and resource

management plans.

2. Remove ash fall and lava.


productive (natural)

resources, damage or

destruction of built

environment, pollution of

water resources, health

impacts from air pollution.

Armed Conflict (between

and within countries):

Active fighting by military

units (“conventional

warfare”). Intentional

damage to infrastructure,

including power, water,

sewage and industrial

capacity due to active

fighting. Limitations on

ability to deliver basic

supplies to non-

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

3. Threat of

sedimentation, flooding or

erosion due to presence

of ash or lava.

1. Active military efforts to

cause damage.

2. Inability or reduced

ability to deliver minimum

supplies of water, food,

sanitation services and

basic care due to fighting

or infrastructure damage

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

3. Remove or maintain productive

resources or infrastructure under


4. Develop alternate uses for land

covered with ash or lava, e.g.,

use for construction material.

5. Develop water and air quality

monitoring program and

remedial measures as


6. Implement erosion and surface

water management plan to

manage sedimentation process

and changes to water quality.

7. Specialized technical assistance

likely needed to deal with

water/air quality issues.

1. Development of protected

systems for delivery of minimum

supplies of critical items (water,

food, sanitation services, health


2. Use of neutral parties to deliver

supplies and manage efforts to

address damage caused by


3. Debris should be recycled or

disposed in a way to minimize


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.

Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

combatant populations. air, water and land pollution.

Armed Conflict:

Unconventional warfare

(including terrorism and

ethnic cleansing).

Disruption of normal

social and economic

support systems (i.e.,

theat to ability of

populations to meet basic

needs). Damage to and

disruption of infrastructure


Armed Conflict: Use of

chemical, biological,

nuclear, radiation or high

yield conventional

explosives (in

conventional and

unconventional warfare).

Immediate or delayed

death to non combatants

and other living entities

(e.g., cattle).


Hazardous Material

Release (fixed site and

Releases of hazardous

substances via air, water

or land, with intention to

due harm.

1. Level of release above

established norm (local or

international, as

Development of protected systems

for delivery of minimum supplies of

critical items (water, food,

sanitation services, health care).

1. Rapid response teams to limit

releases of hazardous materials.

2. Decontamination of affected

populations and areas. Note that

decontamination efforts will

require significant steps to

properly dispose of

contaminated materials.

1. Limit additional damage by

removing populations from

affected areas and providing


during transport, including

road, water, rail or air

accidents). Release of

chemicals or compounds

that pose immediate

threat to life and well



Explosion, from fixed or

mobile source (e.g., tank

truck). Destruction of

lives, productive assets

and infrastructure.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Guidance as to whether

the hazard presents a

significant threat.


2. Rate of release (e.g.,

explosion) poses

significant threat to life or

well being.

1. Humans at risk.

2. Potential or actual

damage to productive

assets (natural resources,

commercial facilities or


Does this threat

exist for the

disaster area?

Yes (2),

Unknown (1),

No (0)


Is the




Large (3),

Medium (2),

Small (1)?

Impact Score:

Threat presence

(score for column

three) x Size of

area affected

(score for column


Initial Response Options

response teams with protective

clothing and support.

2. Treat exposure symptoms as

per standard medical response,

taking care not to pass on

contamination during treatment.

3. Dispose of contaminated items

in way to limit additional land,

water or air pollution.

4. Likely specialized assistance will

be needed for all phases of the


1. Before disaster, develop risk

zoning and change land use to

reduce risk from explosion.

2. Design facilities/vehicles to

reduce risk of explosion.

3. Establish warning and

evacuation plans and shelters.

4. After explosion, consider items

in previous section.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Rating Form 3: Unmet Basic Needs

Basic Needs Were


being met

before the


Rate from

1 (not

being met)

to 10








Health Care

Are needs

being met



Rate from

1 (not

being met)

to 10




Will the quality

or quantity of

the resources

used to meet

this need be


significantly in

the next 120





(Based on Sphere indicators. The closer the

indicators are met in full, the higher the

score. These indicators are guides. Use

depends on available data and familiarity of

users with Sphere Standards. )

1. 15 liters of water per person per day.

2. Waiting time at point of delivery not more

than 15 minutes.

3. Distance from shelter to water point no

more than 500 meters.

4. Water is palatable and of sufficient quality

to be used without significant risk to health

due to water-borne diseases, or chemical

or radiological contamination during shortterm

use. (Note: contaminates includes

human and industrial waste and agrochemicals.)

1. Minimum food needs met : On average,

2,100 kilo-calories per person per day, 10-

12% of total energy from protein, 17% of

total energy from fat, and adequate micronutrient


2. Food supplies are accessible at affordable

prices and supply and costs are stable

over time.

3. Food distribution is equitable, transparent,

safe and covers basic needs (together with

other food items available).

1. At least 3.5 square meters of covered

space per person providing protection from

weather and fresh air, security and privacy.

2. In hot climates, shelter materials,

construction and ventilation adequate to

keep in-shelter temperature 10 degrees

centigrade below outside temperature.

3. In cold climates, shelter material,

construction, and heating ensure internal

temperature no less than 15 degrees


4. Camps, temporary shelter sites or

resettlement sites are safe and have

adequate access to basic services. .

5. 45 square meters space is available per

person in temporary camps or shelters,

with provision made for living, social and

commercial activities.

1. Disaster survivors have sufficient personal

liberty and security at all times.

2. Opportunities for violence are minimized to

the extent possible.

Opportunities for violence should be

noted and linked to specific

environmental issues when appropriate.

1. Disaster survivors have adequate, timely

Basic Needs Were


being met

before the


Rate from

1 (not

being met)

to 10





(liquid and









Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Are needs

being met



Rate from

1 (not

being met)

to 10



Will the quality

or quantity of

the resources

used to meet

this need be


significantly in

the next 120





(Based on Sphere indicators. The closer the

indicators are met in full, the higher the

score. These indicators are guides. Use

depends on available data and familiarity of

users with Sphere Standards. )

and affordable access to care for injuries

and health (including psychosocial)

problems arising from the disaster.

2. Health management interventions are

appropriate for chronic and acute health

risks faced by disaster survivors and take

into account age and gender. (See Sphere

Standards for specifics.)

1. Toilets are clean and safe, with a

maximum of 20 people per toilet and are

no more than 50 meters from dwellings

2. Use of toilets is arranged by household(s)

and/or segregated by sex.

3. Environment is acceptably free of solid

waste contamination, including medical


4. Refuse containers are easily available and

refuse is disposed of in a way to avoid

creating health and environmental


5. No contaminated or dangerous medical

wastes in living or public space.

1. Location of disaster survivors is not subject

to immediate hazards, including flooding,

pollution, landslides, fire, or volcanic

eruptions, or effective mitigation measures

have been taken.

2. Environment is free from risk of water

erosion, from standing water and with a

slope of no more than 6%.

3. Smoke and fumes are below nuisance

levels and pose no threat to human health.

4. Animal management minimizes

opportunities for disease transmission,

solid and liquid waste problems and

environmental degradation.

5. Uncontrolled extraction of natural

resources by disaster survivors is not

taking place.

6. Graveyard (s) is appropriately located and


1. Fuel availability meets immediate needs.

2. Low smoke and fuel-efficient wood stoves,

gas or kerosene stoves and cooking pots

with well-fitting lids are available.

Sufficient to meet security requirements and

for normal economic and social activities.

Each household unit has access to adequate

utensils, soap for personal hygiene and

necessary tools. (Specific minimum needs

identified in Sphere Handbook Chapter 4,

Section 2).

Clothing is appropriate for climatic conditions,

gender, age, safety, dignity, and well-being.

Basic Needs Were


being met

before the


Rate from

1 (not

being met)

to 10




Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Are needs

being met



Rate from

1 (not

being met)

to 10



Will the quality

or quantity of

the resources

used to meet

this need be


significantly in

the next 120





(Based on Sphere indicators. The closer the

indicators are met in full, the higher the

score. These indicators are guides. Use

depends on available data and familiarity of

users with Sphere Standards. )

1. Adequate to deliver goods and services to

displaced at reasonable cost and


2. Adequate to permit disaster survivors to

reach goods and services at reasonable

cost and convenience.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Rating Form 4: Negative Environmental Consequences of Relief Activities


Local Coping



Seeds 21 , tools

and fertilizer

Is the


underway or



Questions on whether potential negative

environmental consequences of proposed

interventions have been addressed.

To be added based on specific disaster conditions.

Negative environmental consequences often involve a

loss of natural resources, bio-diversity or conflict over

scarce resources.

1. Is the danger to applicators and humans from

exposure in the application, handling or storage of agrochemicals


2. Are negative impacts on non-target organisms in soil,

water and air avoided or minimized?

1. Is the loss of agro-bio-diversity prevented?

2. Is the introduction of species and varieties which are

invasive or cannot be used without locally unavailable

inputs avoided?

3. Is damage to traditional seed management systems




answer to

the question


to the left.

21 Note that food aid, if provided as whole grain, may be used as seed, and should be screened according to this section.

22 This option applies to food aid grain provided as whole grain.

Selected Avoidance or Mitigation Options

Avoidance/mitigation options should be developed

specifically for each possible negative

consequence. This process should involve input

from survivors and can be facilitated with

information collected through the Community

Level Assessment module..

1. Avoid or minimize use or use products with low


2. Establish training and education programs on

agro-chemical safety.

3. Establish system for safer handling, cleaning

and disposal of containers and equipment.

4. Provide education and extension advice on use

1. Use local seeds where possible, procured and

distributed through existing channels.

2. Limit introduction of non-local seeds to varieties

tested locally and known to local users.

3. Avoid introduction of genetically modified seed

varieties not already in use in the country 22 .


Harvesting wild


Expansion of

Area or Type of


Expansion of

Livestock Use

New farming or

livestock raising


Is the


underway or



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Questions on whether potential negative

environmental consequences of proposed

interventions have been addressed.

4. Is the potential for increased resource extraction due

to availability of more effective means of farming


5. Is the potential for damage to soil and water from

overuse of fertilizers addressed?

Are steps taken to avoid harvesting rates which exceed

production capacity or reduces future production


1. Is the potential for the loss of habitats and reduced

bio-diversity addressed?

2. Is the possibility of deforestation addressed?

3. Is the potential for soil erosion addressed?

1. Is the potential for the loss of habitats and reduced

bio-diversity addressed?

2. Is the potential for the introduction of new animal

diseases or expansion of existing diseases addressed?

1. Is the potential for loss of habitats and reduced biodiversity


2. Is the potential for the introduction of new animal

diseases or expansion of existing diseases addressed?

3. Is the potential for land degradation and erosion from

land clearing or grazing addressed?



answer to

the question


to the left.

Selected Avoidance or Mitigation Options

varieties not already in use in the country 22 .

4. Provide environmental education on use of

tools and develop resource extraction plan which

avoids negative environmental impacts where


5. Provide education and extension advice on use

of fertilizers. Limit quantities available to actual

agricultural needs.

Establish harvest system based on a balance

between rates of extraction and regeneration.

1. Establish and use land use plans which take

into account habitat diversity and sustainability of

land use systems.

2. Re- and a- forestation programs.

3. Soil conservation activities.

1. Develop and implement a land use plan which

takes into account habitat diversity and

sustainability of land use systems.

2. Establish/expand animal disease monitoring

and control system.

1. Develop and implement a land use plan which

takes into account habitat diversity and

sustainability of land use systems.

2. Establish/expand animal disease monitoring

and control system.

3. Institute land conservation activities.






including shelter,

public buildings



excluding roads.

Is the


underway or



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Questions on whether potential negative

environmental consequences of proposed

interventions have been addressed.

1. Is the risk of Increased disease transmission


2. Is potential for soil degradation and water logging


3. Is the potential for aquifer depletion addressed?

4. Is the potential for weed dispersal through irrigation

water addressed?

1. Is harvesting which exceeds production capacity or

reduces future production capacity prevented?

2. Is the potential for damage or destruction of habitats

from fishing methods addressed?

3. Is the introduction of exotic species of fish, parasites

and diseases prevented?

1. Are plans and procedures established to prevent

scarce natural resources from being over exploited for

construction activities?

2. Are plans and procedures established to ensue that

the construction site is not in an area of increased

hazard compared to location or conditions before


3. Are plans and procedures in place to avoid increases

risk of flooding, erosion or other hazards due to the


4. Do construction methods and procedures take into

account the risk of disaster?



answer to

the question


to the left.

Selected Avoidance or Mitigation Options

1. Increase preventive and curative health care.

2. Increase disease surveillance.

3. Establish management plan for water use which

assures adequate water for current and future


4. Change types of crops/cropping systems and

water use.

5. Establish filtering system for weed propagules.

1. Develop and follow a resource harvesting plan

which assures adequate supplies for current and

future needs.

2. Monitor aquatic resource use and undertake

education program for resource users.

3. Limit or avoid introduction of new fish varieties

and fish production methods.

1. Develop and follow resource management and

land use management plans.

2. Assess hazards in area where construction will

take place and change siting or methods


3. Ensure construction methods reflect known

hazards and risks and are used to reduce



Roads, paved or

other, new and


Water Supply



latrines, waste

treatment and


Is the


underway or



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Questions on whether potential negative

environmental consequences of proposed

interventions have been addressed.

1. Are there plans and procedures designed to avoid

the exploitation of new lands or increased exploitation

of existing lands due to the road?

2. Are procedures and plans developed to prevent

flooding and drainage problems due to the road work?

3. Are there plans and procedures to avoid landslides

and soil erosion due to the road work?

1. Are increased opportunities for disease transmission


2. Are there plans and procedures to avoid an increase

in population density having a negative environmental


3. Is the overuse of ground or surface water supplies


4. Are chemicals used to clean or purify water managed

in such a way to avoid human health dangers or

contamination of the environment?

1. Is the creation of hazardous waste sites avoided?

2. Is additional pollution of land, water and air avoided?



answer to

the question


to the left.

Selected Avoidance or Mitigation Options

1. Develop and follow land use plans.

2. Limit access to roads.

3. Verify road design against flooding/drainage

risk assessment.

4. Incorporate erosion mitigation measures in road

construction activities.

1. Establish and maintain water treatment system.

2. Design and maintain water supply structure to

minimize standing water and vector breeding


3. Plan water provision based on anticipated need

and use plan for delivery area which allows

current and future needs to be met.

4. Establish water resource use plan and monitor

use and supply.

5. Consider economic incentives to conserve


6. Use hazardous chemicals as recommended

and limit inappropriate use through education.

1. Establish and maintain sites for sanitary and

safe waste disposal operating at international


2. Limit waste movement through appropriate

collection systems meeting accepted best



and solid waste


Health Care

Industry (new or


Change in

cooking or food



Is the


underway or



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Questions on whether potential negative

environmental consequences of proposed

interventions have been addressed.

3. Is an increase in disease transmission and presence

of disease vectors avoided?

1. Is pollution from disposal of medical and other waste


2. Is an increased demand for traditional medical herbs

and plants which exceeds sustainable yield avoided?

1. Are plans and procedures in place to avoid and

increase in air, soil and water pollution?

2. Is the unplanned and unmitigated disposal of solid

and liquid waste avoided?

3. Is an increase in road and other traffic avoided or


4. Are there plans and procedures in place to address

the environmental impact of increased population and

demand for services?

5. Is an increased and unsustainable resource

extraction avoided?

1. Is increased fuel harvesting avoided or mitigated?

2. Is increased air pollution avoided?



answer to

the question


to the left.

Selected Avoidance or Mitigation Options


3. Minimize opportunities for disease transmission

and vectors.

4. Establish and maintain environmental

monitoring program covering air, land and water


1. Establish system for safe disposal of all wastes

(solid and liquid).

2. Develop a resource management plan for

harvesting of local medicinal herbs and plants.

1. Develop pollution mitigation and abatement

plans, incorporating financial incentives where


2. Develop site use plans incorporating transport

and population support needs based on level of

industrial operation.

3. Develop plans for the supply of services (e.g.,

water, education) for expected population in

industrial area.

4. Develop and implement a sustainable resource

use plan for target industry.

1. Use fuel efficient stoves and cooking methods.

2. Develop and implement a resource

management plan for resources needed to cook


Creation of

Small or Medium



Relief Supplies

Is the


underway or



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Questions on whether potential negative

environmental consequences of proposed

interventions have been addressed.

3. Is an increase resource harvesting to cover food

preparation costs avoided?

1. Is unsustainable resource extraction avoided?

2. Is the waste produced disposed of properly?

3. Are steps taken to avoid siting enterprises in

hazardous locations.

1. Are steps taken to ensure that relief packaging does

not create a solid waste disposal problem?

2. Are steps taken to ensure that personal hygiene

materials are disposed of properly and pose no health

and sanitation problem?

3. Are steps taken to ensure that relief assistance is

appropriate or acceptable to survivors and not


4. Are there procedures to ensure that relief does not

create new and unsustainable consumption habits on

part of survivors?



answer to

the question


to the left.

Selected Avoidance or Mitigation Options

or support costs of food preparation.

3. Consider organizing cooking process to reduce

air pollution and fuel demand (e.g., communal

kitchens, dining halls).

1. Environmental impact review performed for

each enterprise supported. A simple checklist may

be sufficient if a number of similar types of SME

are to be supported.

2. Waste disposal plans meeting appropriate

standards incorporated into enterprise business

plan and monitored.

3. Hazards and risks of location of enterprises

assessed and appropriate mitigation measures

identified before support provided.

1. Use biodegradable, multi-use or recyclable

packaging where possible.

2. Collect packaging as part of distribution


3. Develop program of education and facilities for

safe disposal of personal hygiene materials.

4. Base assistance on needs assessment

including survivor input.

5. Don’t provide inappropriate materials.

6. Select assistance based on local social and

economic conditions and sustainability of supply.


Rubble removal



Demining and



Is the


underway or



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Questions on whether potential negative

environmental consequences of proposed

interventions have been addressed.

1. Is the handling and disposal of rubble done in a way

to avoid the creation of disease vector breeding sites,

leading to increased disease levels?

2. Are rubble removal efforts also clearing obstructions

to existing drainage/water flow systems so that flooding

and sanitation problems can be avoided?

3. Is rubble being recycled to that greater natural

resource extraction is not necessary?

1. Do resettlement plans address possible negative

environmental impacts due to changes in land use and


2. Are assessments and mitigation procedures been

used to ensure that new settlements are not subject to

new or greater hazards than before disaster?

Are steps taken to ensure that new skills learned do not

lead to greater extraction of resources or production of


Do demining/ordinance removal plans include

procedures to avoid environmental damage to lands

and resources which had not been previously exploited

due to mines and unexploded ordinance?



answer to

the question


to the left.

Selected Avoidance or Mitigation Options

Develop and follow plans to recycle rubble and

dispose of unusable materials in way which

minimizes negative environmental impact.

1. Develop and follow land use plan in

reconstruction and siting of settlements.

2. Conduct hazard and risk assessment of existing

and new settlements sites and incorporate results

into site selection, planning and construction


Include environmental education and waste

management options in training programs.

Establish and follow land use plans for areas open

to use following demining/clearance of

unexploded ordnance.

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex C Guidance on the Management of Meetings

Individuals leading the REA process will be responsible for organizing and conducting

meetings to undertake the Organizational Level Assessment. In order for these meetings

to be run as effectively as possible, and to minimize the time necessary to achieve the

objectives of the meetings, the following checklist may serve as helpful guidance. This

checklist should be reviewed before each meeting. Additional points can be added to this

list based on individual experience and local conditions.

• Review the Guidelines and develop a plan for the assessment and specific meetings

needed to complete the assessment.

• Request that all participants of the meeting become familiar with the Guidelines for

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment In Disasters before they come to the


• Review the background of participants and tailor assessment sessions to the nature

of the participants.

• Determine presentation methods and plans for each session.

• Anticipate issues which might arise during the assessment and collect any additional

information which may help address these issues.

• Decide how questions will be handled. They can be taken during each session, at the

end of the session, at the end of the day, and orally or in writing.

• Develop an agenda and schedule for the meeting.

• Schedule breaks at intervals of no more than 2 ½ hours.

• Decide whether food and drinks will be provided at breaks and how lunch will be


• Assure the use of a common language for all participants or provide for simultaneous


• Determine how to make break-out groups, including whether each group will remain

together during the whole assessment or will be re-organized for each new

task. Break-out groups should be no smaller than three persons and not larger than

10 persons if possible.

• Prepare handouts in advance (which may require translation) and ensure there are

sufficient copies for all participants.

• Ensure that there are sufficient copies of the Guidelines in appropriate languages for

the participants. (It is recommended to provide copies of the Guidelines to

participants before the assessment, but it is likely that not all participants will bring

their copies to the meeting.)

• Ensure that there are an adequate number of flip charts (at least one flip chart per

break-out group), pens, pads, and other expendable supplies needed by participants

to do the tasks needed to complete the assessment.

• Ensure that there is adequate space for breakout groups. (If the space is too small,

the work of the groups may interfere with each other.) Break-out groups can meet in

well separated parts of a larger meeting area or move to separate rooms, although

this does make monitoring harder. Having groups meet in public spaces, such as

corridors or lounges, should be avoided if possible.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

• Have a safety plan, including information as to where first aid can be secured.

• Decide what to do about mobile phones. They can be turned off, or left with one

person not attending the assessment who would take messages during the

assessment sessions.

• Be early to the assessment meeting site to set-up the location and ensure there are

no problems.

• Test all equipment. Have backup equipment at hand or quickly available to the

assessment meeting site.

• Make sure people can find site, particularly ensuring that access is signed, security

checkpoints know about the assessment and participants can be cleared through

security sites and doors without difficulty.

• At the beginning of the assessment:

o Review the agenda, schedule, logistics arrangements, and "ground rules",

such as the use of mobile phones and asking questions.

o Ask for questions and clarify any outstanding issues before proceeding.

o Review the plan for completing the meeting and whole assessment. This plan

is different than the agenda and schedule, and covers how each part of an

assessment-related meeting is to be conducted.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex D Community REA Information Collection Guide

Community REA Information Collection Guide 23

The following document can be used as a guide in collecting information for the community

level rapid assessment of environmental impacts. The information collected through this

guide corresponds to the information required to answer the questions posed in the

Community Assessment Summary Form (Annex E).

The guide should be used in conjunction with standard Rapid Rural Appraisal (PRA) and

Rapid Assessment Procedures (RAP) methods and approaches. See Annex F, RAP and

PRA Techniques for Emergencies and Annex F, Guidelines on Community

Assessments, for additional information on PRA and RAP and data collection methods.

This document should be reviewed before use and modified as appropriate for the

community being assessed and the circumstanced of the disaster being investigated.

A. General Information (completed by data collection team)

1. Date:

2. Time Started:

3. Time End:

4. Name of Community:

5. Person/s conducting the assessment : Facilitator: Recorder:


6. Distance of community from main road and district capital:

7. Nature of access to the community: paved, all season, dirt track, no road.

8. Ethnic group/s and religion diversity present in the community:

9. Description of the community. Including physical location, types of housing, physical

layout and natural environment (agro-climatic zone, presence of rivers, lakes, parks,

nature reserves etc). If possible, conduct a social mapping.

10. Description of the origin of the community (e.g., when settled and where first settlers

came from).

11. Number of people currently living in the community:

12. Are there people who migrated/displaced from the area? If yes when, how many, in

which direction and to where?

B. Environment and Livelihood Information

23 This document was developed by Samuel Tadesse, CARE Ethiopia, based on materials used in a

field test of the REA in Ethiopia in 2002. The Guide was later used in the 2003 REA training in India.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003


13. How does the group describe the environment in which the community is located?

Specifically ask about how the community has changed in the past ten years, noting

changes to agriculture land, forests, pasture, supplies of raw materials, access and

availability of water and pasture, and rainfall.

14. Is the community near any unique environmental areas (e.g., national park, industrial


15. Are there any areas which the community considers as special, such as holy sites,

locations of natural resources or places which are protected by tradition? (Where

possible, identify exact location.)

16. Does the community have any specific concerns about the environment? Specifically

ask about fire, drought, floods, water and air pollution and other hazards, and recent

changes to environmental conditions.

17. Does the group see the location of the community as one that is safe from floods,

erosion, and other problems?

18. What are the rules that the community has governing the use of natural resources

(agriculture land, forests, pasture, water)? Is there any difference for males and


19. How does the community resolve a dispute over the use of natural resources (forest,

pasture or land use) water or other natural resources?

Livelihood/ economic activities

20. Nature of livelihood system: herding, agro-pastoral, farming, industry, other wage

labor (indicate what type of labor). Indicate if more than one system is used, and

number 1 to 5 in terms of importance.

21. What are major means of incomes and who involve from family members? Describe

major occupation in terms of importance.

22. What are the criteria for wealth classification?

Do (1) most families have about the same wealth, (2) are there a lot of poor and a

few wealthy families in the community, or (3) are there some poor and wealthy, but

most families have sufficient resources for all needs?

23. Are families supported by only one type of work, or by several family members with

different occupations?

24. Are there any development projects working with the community and what do they


C. Disaster Information

25. Has the community been affected by any of the following events in the past year. 24

24 This list should be revised to reflect a specific disaster event. See Rating Form 2 for additional



Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003



…Strong Winds


…Crop pests or diseased

…Human diseases

…Animal diseases


…Accidents (e.g., fire burning someone)


Ask if any similar events are not included in this list.

26. For each type of event identified, ask whether this event was considered a disaster,

that is, why was it different than normal conditions?

For each item identified as a “disaster” above answer the following questions.

27. What was the cause and impact of the disaster?

28. What damage happened as a result? Describe human and material damages.

29. How many people have left the community due to the disaster, where did they go and

when are they expected back?

30. When did the disaster start and how long is it expected to continue?

31. Has the type of work that people do to support families changed since the start of the

disaster? If yes, note changes.

32. What has the community done to address the disaster? What coping mechanisms

have been used?

33. Since the disaster began, how do people in the community get money and have

these sources changed? (List sources and changes.)

34. Has the community been able to address (1) most, (2) some, (3) few of the impacts

of the disaster from their own resources?

35. Has the community received any assistance from the government or NGOs to deal

with the disaster? (Yes/no). If no, skip to number 38.

36. What kind of assistance was received? (List, including origin – government, donor,

NGO, other communities, people who have left the community-- if possible)

37. Was this assistance considered to be (1) a lot of assistance, (2) enough assistance,

(3) just some assistance, (3) little assistance?

38. Has this assistance (1) improved, (2) stabilized or (3) not had much impact on

conditions in the community?

39. Has the assistance which has been provided caused any problems for the

community? (Prompt for impact on the environment.)

40. When the disaster is over, how long does the community think it will take for

environmental conditions to return to normal?


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

D. Basic Needs

This section asks about conditions in the community affected by the disaster.

41. How did the community get water before the disaster: purchase, wells, cisterns,

lakes, ponds etc.? Indicate more than one if needed)

42. How does the community describe the water quality before and after the disaster?

43. Is there enough water for everyone in the community? Compare before and after the


44. What types of shelter does the community use and has there been any change after

the disaster? If yes, describe major changes.

45. How did community members get materials to build a house before the disaster:

purchase, collect from country side, receive as gift, etc?

46. Does the community have any problems with shelter since the disaster? If there are

problems, note what they are.

47. How does the community meet their clothing needs?

48. Are there any changes after the disaster? Describe.

49. How will additional clothing be secured: purchase, manufacture, and/or gift?

50. How do community members get food: own production, purchasing in market, gift

etc.? (Indicate importance if more than one source.)

51. Do all the community members have enough food? If not, who is most affected by

the lack of food?

52. How does the community get fuel for cooking and other uses? (purchase, free

collection, other means – note)

53. Has the supply of fuel changed because of the disaster? If yes, describe how and


54. Have community members lost any household resources (utensils, soap for personal

hygiene, bedding, tools etc.) due to the disaster?

55. How will these be replaced: sale of assets, gift, purchase, etc?

56. Do people in the community have any concerns about personal safety, either in the

community or when outside the community? If yes, who is affected and why?

57. Is there adequate health care for the community?

58. Has the availability of health care changed since the disaster?

59. Is health care free, including drugs?

60. If health care is not free, how do community members pay the costs involved?


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

61. Does the community use latrines? If yes, indicate their type, location and ownership

(family, group of families, communal).

62. Are there enough latrines?

63. If no, why people do not have them?

64. Is there any agro-chemicals use in the village? If yes, note type, sources and for what

purpose the agro-chemicals are used.

65. Have agro-chemical users received training on safe use?

66. Is the community aware of the dangers of excessive application of agro-chemicals?

E. Conclusion

67. How would the group describe a good future for the community? (Prompt for types of

work, types of housing, access to water, electricity, roads, education and health

status and changes to the environment.)

68. What suggestions do community members make as to how environmental issues in

the community should be addressed?

F. Coping Strategies

69. If not indicated elsewhere during discussions with the community, note specific

coping strategies which are being used in response to the disaster. Some of these

coping strategies may only become evident in one-on-one or small group discussions

since they may be illegal or not socially acceptable.

G. Observations

Observation should be made as to the way that human, animal and other waste is disposed.

70. Is the community clean of human/animal waste and garbage? (yes/no).

71. Are waste sites (where people throw waste or use as a toilet) distant from the

community (yes/no).

72. Are there obvious insect breeding sites (particularly for flies and mosquitoes) in the

community? (yes/no).

73. Is the community graveyard distant from housing and water supplies?

74. If there is a health facility in the community are medical wastes disposed of safely?


Additional observations by individuals conducting the assessment about disaster or

environment-related conditions in the community:


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex E Community Assessment Summary Form



Community Assessment Summary Form 25


Community 1

Community 2

Community 3

Community 4


Ranking 26

Context Questions: Score Yes = 1 (“bad”) or No = 0. Corresponds to Sections One and

Two of the Organization Level Assessment.

















Did the community report environmental


Did the community report environmental


Are there unique areas near the community?

Are a large number of persons affected by the


Has the disaster been going on for a long time?

Are the disaster survivors concentrated?

Have the survivors moved a great distance?

Is level of self-sufficiency low?

Is social solidarity low?

Is culturally homogeneity low?

Are most assets concentrated with a few


Is livelihood base limited (not diversified)?

Are expectations high?

Will current resource use reduce adequate

availability in the future?

Is capacity to absorb waste limited?

Does the environment have limited resilience?

Disasters/Hazards, Yes = 1 (“bad”) or No = 0. Corresponds to Section Three of

Organization Level Assessment.


Is drought a reported problem?

25 Add columns equal to the number of communities or groups who participated in the assessment.


The importance ranking is calculated by adding the number of similar answers based on one answer (e.g. yes)

being 1 and the other 0.






Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Is wildfire a reported problem?

Is conflict a reported problem?

Is animal disease a reported problem?

Is human disease a reported problem?

Are other hazards reported problems (note

response for each hazard separately).

Unmet Needs No = 1 (“bad”) or Yes = 0. Corresponds to Section Four of the

Organization Level Assessment.












Are adequate supplies of potable water available

for humans?

Are adequate supplies of potable water available

for animals?

Is shelter adequate for local expectations?

Is food adequate?

Is fuel adequate?

Are household resources adequate?

Is personal safety adequate?

Are human health conditions adequate?

Is waste management appropriate?

Is the control of insects and breeding sites


Are agro-chemicals used safely?

Community Relief/Coping Strategies. Corresponds to Section Five of the Organization

Level Assessment 27

The assessment results should be used to identify relief and coping strategies used by the

community. These actions should be entered in the first column.

Each action should be judged as to whether it is having a positive or negative impact on the

environment. Some actions can have both impacts concurrently or at different times. Further

details on the actions and strategies should be provided in the third column to understand

the scope and overall impact of each action.


27 Add additional rows as needed.


Positive (+) or

Negative (-)

Impact on Local


Comments including whether the action is

common for all or only a select number of

communities or groups within the



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Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex F RAP and RRA Techniques in Emergencies

19. The application of RAP and RRA techniques in emergency relief programmes 28

By Hugo Slim and John Mitchell

Hugo Slim And John Mitchell are with Rural Evaluations in UK.

This paper presents still another use for rapid qualitative assessment techniques

borrowed from both RAP and RRA: their application to emergency relief programmes.

The paper highlights both advantages and difficulties in using RAP and RRA

techniques, and suggests how they can be used to complement wider quantitative

information systems. They can also be used to start a participatory process that can

help people in the affected community to take charge of their own relief, as a vital step

in the process of recovery. - Eds.

THE AIM OF THIS PAPER is to look at the application of RAP and RRA techniques in

emergency relief programmes and to highlight some of the advantages and some of the

difficulties of using these techniques in relief programmes. In so doing, the paper draws on

the experience of rural evaluations in food related emergencies in the Horn of Africa, in the

recent floods in Bangladesh, and in Afghan and Vietnamese refugee camps.

A.1.1 The state of the art

Various forms of RRA are being increasingly used in the assessment and evaluation of all

kinds of emergencies. The idea of the rapid assessment or rapid appraisal of emergency

situations is not new. In most situations, the "rush job" is all there is really time for in the first

stages of a crisis, and in this context the use of some RRA techniques has proved important.

Similarly, an increasing recognition that the kind of qualitative information that RRA can

provide is acceptable and presentable means that RRA and RAP-type surveys are now being

used to complement wider information systems in emergencies. The softer data produced by

RRA are now being better presented in report form and are increasingly drawn on to fill out

more quantitative surveys and to give a fuller living picture of particular areas and particular


However, as RRA and RAP gain credibility as important sources of information in

emergencies, experience to date has provided three main lessons.

1. Experience shows that, while RRA techniques are relatively easy to apply in nonemergency

situations, their use is not so straightforward in the confusion of relief situations.

This means that the RRA most commonly used in current relief practice tends to be a more

28 From: Rapid Assessment Procedures - Qualitative Methodologies for Planning and Evaluation of

Health Related Programmes, Nevin S. Scrimshaw and Gary R. Gleason, Editors, (c) Copyright 1992 International Nutrition

Foundation for Developing Countries (INFDC), Boston, MA. USA. All rights reserved. Reformatted to fit page.

Use requested (11/03).


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

condensed version and is seldom the stuff of which RRA training workshops are made. In the

relief context, the acronym RRA might better refer to "Rough and Ready Appraisal."

2. Although only a handful of techniques are applicable in emergencies, the methods used do

provide a valuable insight into conditions within individual households. Such insight, so

quickly gained, is unobtainable by any other method.

3. Most quantitative data are aggregated over relatively large areas, such as crop forecasts,

nutritional status and rainfall. This kind of information is likely to mask important differences

within a region, as not everyone will be equally affected by the emergency. RRA can be used

to zoom in on particular areas and groups to identify who has been worst hit and why. It can

provide good depth of information but not necessarily good breadth of coverage. It can finetune

the wider information systems to the actual needs of people. This is the first step towards

an effective relief programme.

A.1.2 RRA techniques appropriate to relief operations

In most emergency situations it is not possible to carry out a wide range of RRA techniques

or to involve people's participation to the full. In food, flood and refugee emergencies, a

combination of pressures make a variety of techniques unworkable. War or civil conflict;

acute physical suffering; fear, grief and desperation inevitably limit the number of RRA

techniques appropriate to the emergency situation.

While it may be possible for affected people to participate in some basic ranking exercises

and in quite detailed interviews, other RRA techniques will be impractical. There is neither

the time nor the right atmosphere to introduce or carry out a wide variety of RRA exercises

and it is unlikely that the ideal multidisciplinary team will be available. In practice only two

main RRA/RAP techniques are practical in emergencies: semi-structured interviewing and

direct observation.

Semi-structured interviewing

Semi-structured interviewing involves individual interviews or group discussions with three

groups: the affected population; the local authorities; and the local relief staff. Interviewing in

emergency situations is often a very different process from interviewing in a less pressurized

development context. It tends to require greater sensitivity to people who are often in new

and frightening situations and who are not able to speak with the confidence of their normal


The first feature of emergency interviewing is the problem of fear, mistrust, trauma and

panic. These are ever present and cannot be underestimated. Because of fear or mistrust,

people are often forced to say nothing, to play things down, or to exaggerate and lie [1].

Interviews are bound to have a difficult dynamic when they are carried out within a circle of

armed guards; or with people who are desperate to secure refugee status; or when they are

devastated by a disaster.

The second feature of emergency interviewing is a result of the relief process itself. Relief

situations obviously tend to focus on the giving and receiving of critical and life-saving items

like food, shelter and clothing. In their new circumstances people are often totally dependent

on these relief items, and interviews can turn from discussions to occasions in which people


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

seek only to lobby and coerce the RRA/RAP team. Distressed people's realization that an

interview may have immediate results by releasing more relief items is a constant pressure in

emergency interviewing. Discussions that set out to focus on an in-depth exploration of group

problems and relief organization can quickly break down into tales of individual tragedy and

a series of individual 'shopping lists.' Although much can be learned from these, they are

difficult to interrupt and can side-track the group from organizing itself and presenting its

case as a whole.

Conditions such as these form the background of many relief situations, and interviews

become more difficult and listening becomes a more particular art. It is important to read

between the lines on these occasions and a certain amount of 'lateral listening' is usually

required [21.

Direct observation and checking

Whatever one hears in interviews should be verified by constant cross checking and direct

observation where possible. This should be done by sensitive probing during the interviews

and by as much direct observation as possible.

Distribution records should be checked to confirm or deny the testimony of the people and

the authorities. Testimony that does not tally with what one is seeing should be looked into

more thoroughly. If people are exaggerating, keeping silent or lying, the RRA/RAP team

needs to try and work out why and to what extent. However, at all times, it is important to

remember that the teams who are interviewing and observing are not always welcome. Often

they are a threat to the authorities, to interpreters and to affected people. RRA/RAP teams can

compromise these groups by asking the wrong question, quoting their testimony to the wrong

person, or being seen to notice the wrong thing. Insensitive action by teams can endanger

people and have serious repercussions.

A.1.3 RRA information as a complement to quantitative data

Despite the difficulties of using RRA in relief situations, experience has shown that RRA has

a vital function in emergencies. RRA - however rough and ready - serves three main

functions in relief situations. First, it produces valuable qualitative information at a

grassroots, household level. Second, it is able to work fast. Third, the very method of RRA

can start a participatory process that can influence the running of the relief programme and

begin to help break down fear and mistrust.

RRA insight at household level

The kind of interviewing and direct observation described above produces useful qualitative

information about particular communities and particular circumstances. It is not hard

information but provides a more personal insight about the people involved and the nature of

their present circumstances.

Household insight provides detail of a kind that gives added depth to quantitative information

and sharpens the focus on the picture gained from broader indicators [3]. For example, in

food-related emergencies or refugee situations where relief planners are fixing standard food

ration sizes, insight into food sharing and food consumption patterns discovered by RRA

interviews and observation has clarified needs more precisely and determined general policy.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Learning about how people are eating and sharing and how they are supplementing their diet

has allowed planners to introduce more appropriate rations [4]. In the same way, after floods

or natural disasters, when cash support is urgent for food purchase and house repair, RRA

interviews and first-hand observation can provide important information about labour

patterns, informal credit practices and details of accommodation preference and housesharing

[unpublished paper, Rural Evaluations June 1990].

Household insight can help in the interpretation of broader indicators at the local level. In

most situations where large information systems give blanket definitions of need, the

application of RRA helps to make the picture into something more like a patchwork quilt. By

providing this focus, RRA is able to represent the ambiguities and particular circumstances of

the situation more accurately and thereby complement hard data.


A second feature of RRA and RAP is their speed. This is a particularly important aspect for

emergency relief programmes. Food emergencies can be well hidden and slow to emerge

before they erupt or they can be brought about within days by destitution or displacement.

Natural disasters or large refugee movements can happen overnight and the consequences can

be sudden and disastrous. This means that there is a need for speed in life-threatening relief

situations - particularly the needs assessment stage.

Rapid assessment teams may not be able to cover vast areas but they can quickly cover

sample areas such as the worst affected areas. One advantage of these surveys is that the

information that they produce can be very quickly processed and expressed. Also, they can

cover broad issues (food, health, shelter, etc) and is not confined to a single sector or


RRA participation and community-managed relief

A further important contribution RRA can make in relief situations springs from its ability to

start a process of participation and cooperation within the relief programme. If handled

sensitively and diplomatically, the very methods of participatory RRA and RAP can start a

process of community-managed relief and help to break down fear and mistrust.

The distinctive feature of RRA techniques is that they encourage the active participation of

the population at risk. Even in emergencies, RRA techniques are dialogical and participatory.

They attempt to hear people's views of recent events, their perceptions of the present situation

and their estimations of future conditions. However fragile, the participation involved in the

interviewing and discussion phase of RRA emergency assessments is often a good starting

point for designing more community-managed relief programmes [5].

The participatory RRA method allows people themselves, their representatives and local

authorities, to contribute to the making of the relief agenda. By not being bound to a single

discipline, an RRA survey can also allow the relief agenda to become broader and more

appropriate to the circumstances of that particular locality. By looking at people's livelihoods

within the particular emergency context, RRA is not focused on a single indicator and

therefore is not bound to set up a single sector response.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Because of this, more imaginative and more appropriate relief strategies can be developed in

consultation with the affected people themselves. An increasing example of this process is

that solutions to some food emergencies are no longer discussed purely in terms of food aid.

Instead, new non-food options such as cash, livestock support, labour support, and health

support are now recognized as more appropriate, and are appearing on the relief agenda.

By introducing people's participation into the relief process from the start, RRA techniques

can therefore contribute three important factors to the emergency programme. First, they

allow the affected people to be heard and to help in setting the relief agenda. Second, by not

being exclusively focused on nutrition, health or agriculture, RRA dialogue allows the relief

agenda to be widened to include a variety of relief options. Third, sensitive interviewing and

responsible reporting by RRA teams can bring various sides together in an emergency to

improve cooperation and build the confidence of the affected community.

A.1.4 Conclusion

The use of RAP and RRA in emergency situations is, and always will be, compromised and

unconventional. In some cases where NGOs work alongside vulnerable communities on a

day-to-day basis, a more diverse RRA/RAP package can be used to assess problems and

work out relief measures in advance. In the majority of rushed jobs however, the emergency

scenario remains the same: things happen suddenly, access is intermittent and restricted, and

people are often desperate or in fear. In these situations, only a limited package is possible

and advisable.

An emergency is not the time to try to use a wide variety of techniques nor is it the time to

expect the ideal team. Instead, an emergency is the time to get together with the affected

community and its representatives and to listen and look as much as possible. This simple

approach can be combined with broader surveys to understand the situation and to acquire

details that only direct contact can provide. Added to this, 'rough and ready appraisal' can

start a participatory process that can lead to a more community-managed relief programme.

People in the affected community can begin to take charge of their own relief and break down

some of the problems associated with being the victim. This in itself is always a vital step in

the process of recovery.

A.1.5 References

1. Mitchell J. Slim H. Interviewing amidst fear. RRA Notes 10. London: The International

Institute of Environment and Development, 1990.

2. Mitchell J. Slim H. Hearing aids for interviewing. RRA Notes 9. London: The

International Institute of Environment and Development, August 1990.

3. Buchanan-Smith J. Young 11. Recent developments in gathering and using early warning

information in Darfur, Sudan. Disasters, 1991.

4. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees/Rural Evaluations. A report on

nutritional assessment and a study of food consumption on Pilau Bidong. Geneva: UNICEF,

April 1990.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

5. Slim H. Mitchell J. Towards community-managed relief: a case study from southern

Sudan. Disasters 1990; 14(3): 265-69.


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Annex G Guidelines on Community Assessments

The following information is reproduced (by permission) from a manual developed by CARE

Uganda, and is presented here with kind approval of CARE Uganda. Note that the material

presented below was created for use in monitoring and evaluating development programs

and will need to be adapted for use in disasters.

CARE Uganda

Program Impact Evaluation Process

Module 2:

M&E Tool Box

Companion to:

Module 1 – Overview

Condensed March 2003 for use in the Guidelines for Rapid Environmental Impact in

Disasters (

By: Tom Barton, CRC September 1998


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Table of Contents of Annex G

1. How to use the Tool Box

2. Reviewing and Analyzing Secondary Data

3. Focus Groups

4. Qualitative “Key Informant” Interviews

5. Ranking Exercises

6. Questionnaire-Based Data Collection

7. Rating Scales

8. Analyzing Questionnaire Results


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

1. How to use the Tool Box

The tools in this module include both qualitative and quantitative methods and tools, with an

emphasis on participatory approaches that fit the category of "action research". In this

regard, the tools are able to be oriented locally, i.e., to generate information and support

decision-making processes useful for local levels as well as country office planning,

implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The tools are designed to be action-oriented,

i.e., to be able to collect data, process it, and return it to the various stakeholders in usable

form within a relatively short time frame. In this way, essential decision-making and planning

can be supported with timely information.

The tools selected for this tool box emphasize participation. While these tools are able to

produce "fairly quick and fairly clean" information, they are also designed to be helpful in

making participants aware of the implications of the issues being investigated and supporting

them in undertaking relevant action. As such, the persons implementing the PIE will be

expected to act more as a “facilitators” and less as “experts”. The exact tools to use will

need to be selected and assessed from the perspective of "appropriate technology" and

user-friendliness for the community.

As a caution, because of the problem identification and awareness raising that occurs during

participatory exercises, fieldworkers should be careful not to create expectations that cannot

be fulfilled. Conducting these exercises in the context of a program will help; doing

participatory feedback sessions that explore the strengths and weakness of all stakeholders

(including the community and CARE) will also help.

Tools before going to the field

This section emphasizes the importance of preparatory work before going to the field – doing

a careful budget, pre-testing tools and instruments, and reviewing relevant information that

has been collected by other studies or monitoring activities. Attention to these steps and

details before the field work will help to conserve resources and yield more useful results.

Tips from experience:

• Pre-test with the core evaluation team – if there is a core group of team leaders and/or

supervisors who will be involved in the evaluation, try to get all of them participating in

the pre-testing. If an even larger group of individuals will be involved in the data

collection, let them be trained by core team members who have already tested the tools.

This strategy will prevent the confusion of trying to determine if problems during pretesting

are due to inexperienced data collectors versus poorly designed tools. It will also

prevent the need for retraining the data collectors if changes are needed in the tools

following lessons learnt in the pretest.

Exploratory and explanatory tools

These tools are designed principally for gathering qualitative information, either from

individuals or in group sessions. The tools may be called exploratory when they are used at

an early stage of data gathering, for example, before a survey. In this way, they can help to

understand the range and nature of the issues. They can also be used to narrow down the

possible array of questions for a quantitative survey to a more useful and manageable size.

Used in an explanatory way, the tools in this section can be applied at the end of data

collection, or even during the process of analysis in order to better understand why

conditions are the way they are. They can also be used for cross-checking the validity and

significance of information obtained in other ways, e.g., from a quantitative survey.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Tips from experience:

• Use visual approaches – together with skilful and non-intrusive facilitation, creative use

of visual aids (drawing pictures, graphics, maps, etc.) is an important strategy for

supporting group exercises in action research.

• Sorting, counting and ranking exercises – may be done in written form, but if literacy is

low, it may be more effective to carry them out with everyday objects, such as seeds,

stones or simple sketches on small slips of paper.

• Maps can be used very effectively in groups to describe and analyze the distribution in

the community for features of special interest (e.g., natural resources, types of soil,

vulnerable families, types of services, water points, land tenure patterns, etc.).

• Analytical matrices (e.g., column and row tables, Venn/chapati diagrams) – can be used

on flip-charts or chalkboards for organizing and assembling the ideas developing in a

brainstorming session with a group.

• Share responsibility - in these participatory exercises, aim to “hand over the stick” (or the

marker) as early as possible after the participants have understood the task.

• Duration – The majority of the tools in this section will take approximately 30-60 minutes

per tool to carry out in a small group. Rushing them faster will diminish the quality of

information obtained; taking much longer can run the risk of boring the participants. It is

also not advisable to do more than two tools back-to-back with a single small group of

participants due to fatigue (and to the opportunity costs of keeping them away from their

other employment or tasks around the home).

Survey method and tools

The tools in this section are principally designed for collecting quantitative information, i.e.,

data that is best described in numbers. Quantitative information is particularly useful for

understanding the prevalence or intensity of a given issue. At the same time, surveys can

also be used for gathering some qualitative information from individuals or households, e.g.,

when open-ended questions are used and the full answers are recorded for later analysis.

The content in this section gives some suggestions about questionnaire design and

sampling, as well as presenting some specific tools to address the requirements of the PIE


Tips from experience

• Length – strive to keep surveys short, both in terms of questions and in the duration per

interview. Unless they can see some compelling personal reason for participating,

respondents generally begin to tire after 30-45 minutes of questions, and can start to

give false answers just to get rid of the interviewer. The bigger the questionnaire, the

more work to analyze all the data and make use of it.

• Be interactive – although it is more difficult to completely hand over the stick in a survey,

it can be helpful to include questions that are interactive and/or rely on graphic

responses (drawing a small map, choosing among pictured items, explaining an object or

a photograph, etc.).

• Keep it simple - another consideration regarding participation is the level of language

and conceptual difficulty of the survey instrument. If it is kept simple, it will be easier for

the respondent to understand. A simple questionnaire may allow the use of local

interviewers from the community itself, which enhances rapport, rather than using

university students or other ‘outsiders’ that the respondents may have difficulty trusting.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Analysis tools

The analysis section presents several tools that support participatory analyzes of qualitative

and quantitative data. Participatory analysis may take longer than relying on a single

individual, but it can yield a more balanced and comprehensive result.

Tips from experience:

• Plan ahead – many texts and training manuals for PRA methods and even surveys only

discuss the process up to the point of having a mountain of raw data. However, all of

this data must be processed and extracted if one is going to get any benefit from the

study other than learning how to collect data. It is crucial to plan for analysis at the time

of creating the evaluation design and budget, otherwise one can be left with no time or

resources to obtain any use from the study.

• Graphic representations – pie-charts or bar-charts (or better yet, pictograms that are

graphs constructed of pictures) are suitable for processing and displaying quantitative

information, even with non-literate participants. The pictograms (whose shape is often

inspired by daily objects such as trees, animals, pottery or food) can be used to describe

and analyze time trends; patterns of relationship among different actors; or sequences of

causes, problems and solutions.

Organization and data management tools

This section of the tool box provides some ideas about how to organize the evaluation

process (more details to be provided eventually in Module 3) and strategies for effective

management of data.

Tips from experience:

• Document carefully – keep a master file of all steps, correspondence, and particularly, all

decisions during the process of a study. This file will be invaluable for tracking

information, for analysis and write-up, and for learning lessons to improve similar studies

in the future.

• Back-up data regularly – always do regular back-ups of data and keep logs of data that

has been collected. The loss of even a small amount of data can prove crucial to the

analysis because it is so expensive to go back to the field.

• Remember to feed back results of the study to the community – while final written reports

are useful for institutional or training purposes, active-learning workshops are considered

the most important means for providing feedback to local institutions and the community


A note on sources

The majority of the tools in this tool box have been prepared by the author over a period of

nearly a decade in Uganda and used in various versions as self-learning handouts. Some of

the information about the tools includes additional references – either when the tool is based

more closely on the cited work, or if the cited work has very useful information for expanding

the content beyond the short presentation included in this tool box module. Ideas about

strengths and weaknesses of the tools when specifically applied to program impact

evaluation will probably be refined after the pilot testing anticipated in early 1999.


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

2. Reviewing and Analyzing Secondary Data

A review of existing data has several potential benefits, such as: refining of specific

objectives, identification of potential informants for interviews, further clarification of the

target groups in the population, and summarizing what is known versus what remains to be

answered in the field. Costs are very low, information can be gathered quickly and it can

usually be done with a relatively small amount of local travel. Depending on its quality,

existing data can also permit greater depth of analysis for the population and environment


However, there are also some potential limitations. Data may be incomplete, biased, or

unreliable. The methods originally used to collect the data may not be described. Access to

the materials will vary; and some agencies may expect a fee to respond to information

requests, others may not allow access without several permission letters. Nevertheless, on

virtually every potential topic, some relevant materials can be found by applying persistence,

creativity and problem-solving.

Potential sources of secondary data:

• Academic institutions: university and departmental libraries, technical schools

• NGOs: some NGOs maintain libraries; most keep copies of their own products

• Government: ministerial and district libraries; national archives

• Individuals: professors, researchers, long-term consultants, etc.

Extracting content and meaning from secondary data will be improved if a set of open-ended

questions are systematically posed to the data, such as the following:

Problems (nature, range, distribution)

- What information exists about problems that affect persons in this region?

- What do we know about the distribution of the leading problems? E.g., what are the

influences and inter-relationships between gender, age, ethnicity, location of residence,

family structure, educational status, etc.?

Behavior patterns

- What behaviors place the communities at risk? which behaviors are protective?

- What do we know about factors affecting behavior change among people in this region?

E.g., social competencies, supportive attitudes, social groups, etc.?


- What do we know about external factors affecting the problems? E.g., social norms,

religion, economics?

Institutional responses

- What policies exist that aggravate or solve any of the problems?

- What programs and services are currently addressing the problems?

- What is their coverage and how effective are they?

- Who is funding and who is conducting these activities and services?

- What future activities are planned?

At the conclusion of the documents review, there are two other useful questions:

a) What additional information about the local situation is needed but not available?

b) For whom would this information be useful and why?

From: Barton, T. (1997) How Are We Doing: Guidelines to M&E, CARE Uganda


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

3. Focus Groups

Focus groups are semi-structured discussions with a small group of persons (usually 6-12

people) sharing a common feature (e.g., women of reproductive age, shareholders in an

irrigation system, users of a certain service, etc.). A small list of open-ended topics, posed

as questions or participatory tasks, is used to focus the discussion.


Focus groups have been increasingly used in participatory evaluations and research to

identify and describe insider perceptions, attitudes, and felt needs on a defined topic. Focus

group methods are also used with PRA tools to discuss and record the results.

Steps in using the technique

* Design a discussion topic guide; i.e., an interview framework comprised of open-ended

questions arranged in a logical

Facilitator tasks

1. The facilitator uses the discussion guide to keep the session on track.

2. Introduce discussion topics with a planned introduction. The facilitator does not need to

be an expert on the topics, but should be familiar enough with them to pose relevant

questions. Be lively and encouraging; also keep a sense of humor.

3. React neutrally; remember there is no right or wrong answer. Gestures and other nonverbal

forms of communication such as nods or head shakes should not suggest agreement

or disagreement with the participant's comments. Avoid reacting to the discussion or

expressing personal opinions that could influence the participants.

4. Observe the participants and be conscious of their involvement and reactions.

Encourage all to participate and do not allow a few individuals to dominate the discussion.

5. Listen carefully to move the discussion logically from point to point and to relate

participants' comments to the next question. (e.g., 'Your point about the problem of teenage

pregnancies reminds me I wanted to ask you what sources of community support are there

for unmarried girls who do get pregnant, especially when they have to drop out of school?)

6. Guide the meeting into a discussion among equals, rather than a question and answer

session. In the best sessions, the participants communicate among themselves and

become less aware of the facilitator.

7. Build rapport with the participants and gain their confidence and trust in order to probe

their responses and comments more deeply.

8. Be flexible and open to suggestions, changes, interruptions, and lack of participation.

9. Be subtle and not pushy about watching the time and moving from one topic to the next;

do not appear to be 'watching the clock'.

10. Be aware of your tone of voice; an overly assertive, aggressive or imperative tone can

intimidate the participants, particularly when asking probing questions. It might seem that

the participant is being attacked if the tone of voice sounds unfriendly.

11. Review the meeting very promptly afterwards with the recorder (within 24 hours and

before doing any other such groups).

Note taker/Recorder tasks

1. The note taker/recorder is present primarily to observe and take notes on the discussion.

2. The notes should include full labeling for the session:


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• Date, and time it began and ended,

• Name of the community and a brief statement about any characteristics of it that

might have a bearing on the relevant activities of the participants.

• Venue, including any comments on how the setting could affect the participants (e.g.,

large enough, private enough, etc.).

• Number of participants and some descriptive data on them, such as sex (gender),

approximate age, and any other kinds of information relevant to the study (e.g.,

adolescent boys attending secondary school).

3. Pay attention to the vocabulary of the participants. If the session is being recorded, keep

notes in English for the most rapid sharing with the evaluation or research team. The

recorder should make an effort to note the participants' own words in the local language if

the session is not being tape- recorded. In this case, arrange for translation of the notes and

the tape as soon as possible.

4. Besides recording as exactly as possible what people are saying (direct or verbatim

quotes), the recorder should make brief notes about the flow of the meeting. Record

personal observations and impressions in parentheses ( ) or brackets [ ]. These

observational notes might include comments about the level of participation, whether one or

more are dominating the conversation, fatigue, anxiety, etc.

5. Pay attention to the interruptions and distractions. Note what makes people laugh, what

makes them reluctant to answer, and how the discussion is concluded.

6. Make note of whether there seems to be a consensus or majority opinion on any topic,

but do not force people's answers into any certain mould.

7. In general, the facilitator should be the one to talk, and the recorder should concentrate

on observing and recording. However, if necessary the recorder could interrupt for

clarification, to make suggestions about how to make the discussion more meaningful, or to

help get things back on track if the facilitator seems to have lost control of the meeting.

8. If the session is tape recorded, the recorder is the person to operate the tape. While this

is a bit of chore to keep track that the machine is operating properly, the resulting tape will

help to amplify the written notes taken during the session. Just because there is a machine,

however, do not count on the tape being audible – the note taker must still take notes.

9. Review the meeting very promptly afterwards with the facilitator (within 24 hours and

before doing any other such groups). Expand and complete the notes and then promptly

pass them on to the evaluation or research team.

Strengths and weaknesses of focus groups

+ Group interaction enriches the quality and quantity of information provided

+ Focus group discussions are quite good at disclosing the range and nature of problems,

as well as eliciting preliminary ideas about solutions.

- Practice and experience in qualitative evaluation and research procedures are needed,

especially thorough note-taking and sensitive facilitation.

- Large amounts of information are easily obtained, necessitating skills in extracting and

summarizing for the analysis


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4. Qualitative ‘Key Informant’ Interviews (KIs)

Qualitative and open-ended interviews rely on broad, open-ended questions to be

addressed to knowledgeable individuals (‘key informants’) in a conversational, relaxed, and

informal way. The interviewer is left free to rephrase these questions and to ask probing

questions for added detail (e.g., "Who?", "Where?", "When?", and "How?") based on

respondents' answers and conversation flow. This form of interview is more likely to yield indepth

opinions and perceptions than can be done with a rigid closed-ended questionnaire.


Qualitative and key informant interviews can be used to obtain specific qualitative and

quantitative information. Household features, gender issues, use of natural resources,

household economics, and many other topics can be effectively explored.

Reliability and validity of the interview

Obviously, the first consideration is the knowledge that the respondent may be expected to

have. Remember, too, that the respondent may be knowledgeable about some items and

relatively ignorant about others. Therefore, the interviewer should ask himself the following

questions with reference to each of the principal sub-topics in the interview.

• is the respondent’s knowledge of the matter direct and first-hand?

• is the respondent in a position to provide accurate information?

Some people have a tendency to boast; others have a fertile imagination and unconsciously

exaggerate; still others aim to enhance their self-importance by giving misleading answers.

Questions to consider include:

• is the respondent eager to make strongly authoritative statements?

• does the respondent think before replying and perceptive about the issues?

• are the respondent’s answers based on practical considerations?

Some respondents find it difficult to articulate their feelings, judgments, and opinions,

especially to outsiders. This problem is compounded when the interviewer comes from a

higher socio-economic stratum.

Respondents may have an ulterior motive for providing inaccurate information. Extension

staff may exaggerate the performance and impact of agricultural extension activities. A

health worker may magnify the problems encountered on reaching out to target populations.

Staff directly involved in project efforts have a professional stake in promoting their activities

and covering their shortcomings; often this bias is more sub-conscious than a deliberate

attempt to mislead.

• was the respondent trying to paint only a positive picture?

• Is the respondent talking only of problems and difficulties to seek sympathy?

The social context of the interview also affects the expression of ideas and opinions by the

respondents. For example, when a farmer is interviewed in the presence of government

officials or project staff, he might not reveal the truth because he is afraid to antagonize


• were there people nearby who might have affected the person’s answers?

• was he/she anxious that others might overhear him/her?

• was the location private enough to ensure confidentiality for the interview?


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There is a tendency for respondents to give answers which they believe the interviewer

wants to hear, either from politeness, hope of benefits, or in the hope of shortening the

questioning. In such a case, it is particularly important to avoid giving the respondent clues

regarding the interviewer’s opinions. Questions for a checklist:

• did the respondent show undue deference?

• did the respondent seek the interviewer’s opinion before replying?

• did the interviewer say anything which silenced the respondent or changed the thrust

of his/her responses?

Finally, one should not forget that recent events can influence the views expressed by the

informant. The mental and physical status of the respondent also affect his responses.

When tired, he/she can be irritable and react negatively to questions.

Steps in using the tool

* Design an interview guide and a results summary form.

* Decide who is going to be interviewed (purposeful sampling procedures); and select

appropriate interviewers (may mean matching respondents and interviewers by age

or gender; will depend on topic and local cultural values)

* Pre-test the questionnaire guides with several individuals who are representative of the

types of persons to be interviewed in the actual study (make sure the questions are

comprehensible, that the answers are relevant, etc.)

* Conduct a training for all persons who will be doing the interviews (i.e., the interviewers);

be sure the training includes a number of practice interviews with other interviewers

or community members and subsequent review to improve performance.

* Teach the interviewers to make relatively brief notes during the interview, filling-out the

summary form immediately after the interview; this will require practice to capture

exact words and phrasing for quotations

* Arrange for daily (or nightly) editing of all forms for completeness, errors, etc.

* Hold daily discussions about problems encountered during the interviews and to review the

preliminary results with other members of the team.

Strengths and weaknesses

+ Less intrusive than questionnaires; can be paced to fit the needs of the respondent

+ Encourages two-way communication.

+ Administered in an atmosphere that makes respondents feel at ease, which may include

privacy and confidentiality, depending on topic.

+ Can obtain very detailed information and richly expressive quotations

- Practice and experience are needed for appropriately using this tool; requires sensitivity

and the ability to recognize and suppress one’s own biases.

- Interviewers should have good literacy, communication, and summarizing skills.

- Interviewers will need some grasp of the general topics covered in the interview.

- Facilitator support is needed for analyzing data.

From: Barton, T. (1997) How Are We Doing: Guidelines for M&E; CARE Uganda

Casley, D.J. and Kumar, K. (1988) The collection, analysis, and use of M&E data;

World Bank


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

5. Ranking Exercises

Ranking exercises, which may be done with groups or individuals, are a way to enable

people to express their preferences and priorities about a given issue. Rank order methods

require informants to rank items (i.e., from most to least) in terms of a specific characteristic,

for example, illnesses in terms of severity. The technique may generate insights about the

criteria through which different individuals, groups or social actors make decisions on the

kinds of issues under investigation.


Ranking exercises have been used for a variety of specific purposes, such as:

- identification of needs, priorities and preferences

- quantification of opinion and preferences as elicited through interviewing or


- comparison of preferences and opinions as expressed by different social actors.

Complete rank ordering methods can work with literate informants by presenting them with a

list of items that they are asked to order from "most" to "least" on a specified attribute by

putting numbers next to each item. With low literate groups, each informant can be asked to

order (or sequence) cards that have pictures or symbols (or one can use objects to

symbolize the concepts); the ordering should be from "most" to "least" (or "best" to "worst")

for the attribute of interest.

Partial rank ordering pairs each item with each of the other items (“pair-wise” ranking).

These pairs of items are presented to respondents, who are asked to indicate which is

"more" or "less" ("best" or "worst", "most preferred" or "least preferred", etc.). A total rank

ordering is obtained by summing the number of times each item was chosen.

Example of pair-wise ranking matrix:

Favorite staple foods

Matoke Millet Posho Cassava Potato Score Rank

Matoke Matoke Cassava Matoke Matoke 3 B

Millet Cassava Millet Millet 2 C

Cassava Posho Posho 1 D

Cassava Cassava 4 A

Potato 0 E

(Matoke is steamed banana; Posho is white maize meal porridge)

Strengths of rank order methods:

The complete rank ordering technique produces a great deal of information, and is

productive for the time spent by the informant; it is ideal for studying individual differences.

Paired comparisons are probably the easiest and most reliable method to use with illiterates

when there are a small number of items to be ordered.

Weaknesses of rank order methods:

The complete rank ordering technique can be tedious for non-literate respondents. For

paired comparisons, pre-testing is crucial for identifying the maximum number of pairs that

informants will tolerate. Some researchers have found that even as few as 15 pairs (6

items) can become tedious.


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Steps in using the tool

* Make a list of items to be prioritized;

* Recruit appropriate participants to be involved in the exercise;

* Define a simple ranking mechanism. This may be based on a pair-wise comparison of

items in the list; by sorting cards representing items in order of preference; or by

assigning a score to the different items.

* Prepare a matrix on which preferences identified by participants could be jotted down

(e.g., on the ground, with a flip chart, on a chalk board)

* Explain the ranking mechanism to each participants and ask them to carry out the exercise

(e.g., give them card pairs sequentially and record their preferences; or give them

stones to place on any categories they want in response to a specific guiding

question – which crop is the most difficult, which type of health provider is the most

effective, etc.);

* Ask participants to explain the criteria on which their choice has been made

* Carry out a quantitative analysis of ranking series and interpret the findings on the base of

qualitative statements about the criteria of choice.

Strengths and weaknesses

+ Ranking is a flexible technique which can be used in a variety of situation and setting.

+ Whenever categorical judgements are needed, ranking is a suitable alternative to closedended


+ Ranking exercises are generally found to be amusing and interesting by participants and

are helpful to increase their commitment to action-research.

+ Information is provided on both the choices and reasons for the choices.

- Pre-testing is needed for the ranking mechanism and the tools to be used to facilitate it.

- Choices may be affected by highly subjective factors. In order to generalize results to the

whole community, a proper sampling strategy is needed.

There are a number of resource books with detailed descriptions and pictures of how to do these

techniques, for example:

De Coninck, J. (1994) Facilitator’s Handbook, Volume 1; CAP West Nile and CDRN

Hudelson, P.M. (1994) Qualitative Research for Health Programs; WHO, Division of Mental Health;


Pretty, J.N.; Guijt, I.; Thompson, J.; and Scoones, I. (1995) Participatory Learning and Action; IIED

Participatory Methodology Series, IIED

Theis, J. and Grady, H.M. (1991) Participatory Rapid Appraisal for Community Development: A

training manual based on experiences in the Middle East and North Africa; IIED, SCF


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

6. Questionnaire-Based Data Collection

Formal Interviews

Purpose: To discover quantitative information about people's opinions, beliefs and practices,

and about service need or coverage of project access, so that the information may be

analyzed statistically.

Description: Questionnaire-based data collection is the most common form of social

evaluation and research used in Uganda. Questionnaire results usually come from a faceto-face

interview between an interviewer and a single respondent. Respondents are

selected from a representative sample of the population under study. Each respondent is

asked the same set of questions in the same order. Most questions are close-ended, that is,

the respondent's answer is interpreted by the interviewer as belonging to a certain answer

category and is coded as such. Some questions, however, are open-ended, that is, the

respondent is allowed to answer freely and the answer is written down more or less verbatim

by the interviewer. The answers to each question on each questionnaire are tabulated by

hand or by computer, and then analyzed statistically.

Advantages: A good questionnaire can produce easy to interpret, quantitative results. It is

relatively easy to train enumerators to administer questionnaires.

Disadvantages: Problems of translation and cross-cultural communication are often underestimated.

Many people do not tell the truth in interviews; socially acceptable attitudes and

behaviors are over-reported by respondents and vices are under-reported; many

respondents give the answer which they think the interviewer hopes to hear. Close-ended

questions can easily distort the range of respondents' answers by reducing responses into a

few categories.

Questionnaire-based data collection is difficult, expensive and time consuming; one needs

not only to draft a questionnaire, hire and train enumerators, administer the questionnaire

and analyze the data, but also pre-test the questionnaire and re-write it (often several times)

and check the translation via back-translation. The reliability of a questionnaire depends

heavily on the sample used; identifying a representative sample in Uganda can be difficult.

Rapid Surveys

Methodology notes:

• 20 questions (or less), fitting on one to three sheets of paper with room for answers

• about 2/3 of questions pre-set, rest to be contributed by or specific to the concerns of

the given community

• capable of being administered by local people (e.g., local volunteers) in collaboration

with trained supervision (e.g., divisional staff)

• capable of being analyzed rapidly in the field and raw results given to the community

during the field phase

• able to generate reasonable prevalence data for the community (e.g., based on visits

to every household, or every third household which has been identified and

numbered on the social resource map)


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Strategies for identifying additional information beyond the minimum set of indicators

for the PIE

• Community-generated: what do community leaders want or need to know that would

help them to better serve the needs of their community

• Service-related: based on services reportedly available in the area, how often have

individual households received or made use of any services and what services from

these various providers

Other data considerations

• Data to be gathered should be useful (i.e., not just collected because it is ‘nice to


• Data should be anticipated to be more accurate (exact) or more accessible through a

survey approach than would be possible in group sessions

• Information to gather at the community level might already be available at a larger

scale, but not for the micro-environment of the community, e.g., employment

patterns, reasons for school drop-out, nature of disability, adolescent health (sexual

and reproductive), latrine quality and usage, etc.

Avoiding inappropriate questions

To make sure our questions are appropriate, we must become familiar with respondent

groups – their knowledge of certain areas, the terms they use, and their perceptions and

sensitivities. What may be an excessive burden for one group may not be for another. And

what may be a fair question for some may not be for others. For example, in a survey of the

handicapped, those who were not obviously handicapped were very sensitive about

answering questions while the converse was true for the obviously handicapped.

Questions are inappropriate if they:

• cannot or will not be answered accurately

• are not geared to the respondents’ depth and range of information, knowledge

and perceptions

• are not relevant to the evaluation goals

• are not perceived by the respondents as logical and necessary

• require an unreasonable effort to answer

• are threatening or embarrassing

• are vague or ambiguous

• are part of a conscious effort to obtain biased or one-sided results.

The best way to avoid inappropriate questions is to know the respondent group and not rely

on stereotypes. A brief story may bring this point home. A researcher was pre-testing a

questionnaire on people who used mental health services. During the test, the researchers

expressed surprise that this group of respondents could handle certain difficult concepts.

Annoyed, one of the respondents rejoined, “I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.”

Adapted from:

Adkisson, S. and Munro, L. (1991) Quantitative Questionnaire-Based Research (Formal

Interviews); In: Monitoring, Research and Evaluation in UNICEF-Assisted Projects, UNICEF-


Barton, T. (1997) How Are We Doing: Guidelines for M&E; CARE Uganda


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

7. Rating Scales


Rating scales are a very popular technique for questionnaire data collection in the social



Scales can be created for any number of concepts or attributes, and items can be rated on a

single conceptual scale or each may be rated on a series of scales representing a variety of

concepts or attributes. Scales can be presented numerically or graphically:

“Circle the number that corresponds to the level of severity you would associate with the

illness saxra”

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (from least to most severe)

(mark an 'x' on the line below indicating where you would rate the illness saxra in terms

of severity)

mild severe

Another approach, which can be used with non-literate respondents, is to use cards with

symbols or some other visual stimuli (actual foods or medicines, for example), and ask

informants to place the objects in piles according to some pre-defined rating criteria. For

example, if you are interested in rating a number illnesses according to their perceived

severity, you might decide to use a 3-level rating system (very serious, moderately serious,

not very serious at all), and ask informants:

“I'm going to say the name of an illness, and I would like you to tell me whether the

illness is very serious, moderately serious, or not very serious at all."

As the informant rates each illness, the facilitator (or informant) places the corresponding

card or object in the appropriate pile. Such visual stimuli allow the respondent to consider

the relationships among items and to change their rating if necessary.

Strengths of rating scales:

Rating scales are easy to administer.

Weaknesses of rating scales:

Rating scales can be extremely sensitive to response bias (the tendency of individuals to

always use one end of the scale or a narrow range in the middle of the scale). This can

make it difficult to compare data between respondents.

From: Hudelson, P.M. (1994) Qualitative Research for Health Programs; WHO, Division of Mental

Health; MNH/PSF/94.3


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8. Analyzing Questionnaire Results


Participatory, low technology analysis of quantitative data for capacity building, interactive

approach; with rapid turnaround time for dissemination back to community.


All too commonly, ‘participatory’ assessments become non-participatory at the analysis

stage, yet this is neither a necessary nor a desirable progression. One of the perceived

“reasons” for this shift is ‘lack’ of personnel – many organizations or agencies do not have

many people with computer skills or statistical training. In reality, it represents lack of

awareness that manual analysis can be done very effectively in participatory groups – even

when there are questionnaires from hundreds of respondents. The consequence is a further

‘mystification’ of the analysis process and failure to communicate all of the evaluation and

research skills necessary to communities or organizations so that they can gather and use

information for their own problem-solving.

There are other benefits to analysis by hand. An important opportunity for clarification and

interpretation of results is missed if analysis is handed over to someone unfamiliar with the

conditions in the field. Manual analysis is a way of drawing in not only the fieldworkers, but

also other key stakeholders. And if the analysis is going to be done on a computer with a

group, doing some of the analysis by hand first helps to ensure that everybody understands

the actions being done by the computer – leading to better understanding of the results and

what they mean. In fact, with careful layout of the matrix, and careful cross-checking of each

other’s work, the accuracy of data entry and extraction can be as good by hand as it is with a


Tally sheets – the most rapid way of summarizing results quickly by hand

These are specially-prepared sheets of paper which show all possible responses and are

useful for summarizing and analyzing some types of information, such as production figures,

attendance figures or medical records. For example, two questions in participatory

evaluation might be "how many patients have been seen in the last four months?" and what

ages were they and what was wrong with them?"

Using a tally sheet, a single stroke can be used to record each patient visit by age and

symptomatic diagnosis (such as diarrhea, cough or fever).

Example – tally sheet for young child visits at a clinic, age group by selected diseases

Age Diarrhea Cough Fever

6-12 months 111111111 111111111111111111 11111111111111111111111111



13-18 months 11111111111111111


11111111111111111 111111111111111111111

19-24 months 11111 1111111111111 11111111111111111111111111


One advantage of tally sheets is that they can be set up with symbols in the row and column

headings, and then they can be used even by low literates for tallying data and summarizing

results. When the tally sheet is prepared at a meeting or by a group, the pattern of the result

emerges in a way in which everyone can see. Paper or chalkboard can be used for tally

sheets, too. Tally sheets are very fast for the specific extraction they are set at; however,

there are some disadvantages. One becomes locked into the set format. In the above

example, say that the persons doing the counting informally comment that it looks there was

sort of pattern of differences in the diarrhea episodes. They may have seen a difference

among boys versus girls, or Muslims versus Christians, or rural versus urban. However, the

numbers on the tally sheet cannot confirm or deny this suspicion, and the group would have


Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

to go back and recheck all the questionnaires and start the counting all over again to validate the


Using these methods to summarize your information helps you to see exactly how many (and

what percentage of) people responded in a specific way to specific questions. At the end you

can say, for example, that on average, half (or 50 per cent) of the respondents agree or disagree

with a particular question.

The following table is an example from Ghana showing respondents’ well-being ranking of

indications of a good life.

What Women Men Formal Informal Total

leaders HWs

Income (good) 1111111111 111111 111111 11111 TBA, 37


11 TH,

Food (clean, good) 1111111111 11111 11111 11 111111 36


TBA, 111


Health (good) 1111111111 111 111111 111 TBA, 11 29



Water (good, borehole) 1111111111


1111111 1111 11 TBA 29

Clothing (adequate) 1111111111 1 1111 1111 TBA, 1 22



Another disadvantage with the tally sheets is that you lose the individual answers from each

different respondent. If you want to see clearly how each respondent answered, you may wish to

use a ‘master’ sheet.

Analyzing by hand – Master sheets

A master sheet is a simple method of recording, on a large sheet of paper or on a chalkboard,

some or all of the responses to a questionnaire (depending on how many questionnaires were

involved). It has been used successfully to summarize information on a population of 700.

From experience

In the analysis of baseline data for the Kumi District Health Project (Uganda), each questionnaire

was numbered. Then information from each questionnaire was filled in vertically, from top to

bottom, on flip-charts that had been converted into large-scale graph paper. The frequency

information was then analyzed by 'reading' it horizontally, from left to right. Finally, the results

were tallied and made into averages and percentages.

This way of summarizing information is sometimes called a “people-item-data” roster because it

sets out clearly in lines (or rosters) information (data) as it relates to certain aspects (items) of the

individual respondents (people).


Questions No. 1 2


3 4 5

1. Age 29 28 21 19 19

2. Primary grades completed 3 2 0 3 2

3. Age at marriage 17 19 19 17 16

4. Number of living children 5 7 2 2 3

5. Etc., etc.

If handwriting is small, and the spaces are large enough, it is even possible to write in qualitative

answers to open-ended questions so that analysis of these question responses can be crosstabulated

with other variables in the matrix. Note: Be careful with the 'don't know' answers or

your average results may not be correct in the end.

Adapted from: Feuerstein, M-T. (1986) Partners in Evaluation: Evaluating development and

community programs with participants; MacMillan and TALC


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Annex H Issues Consolidation Table

Topical Area

Context Statement

Disaster Related Factors With

Immediate Impact on the


Possible Environmental Impacts

of Disaster Agents

Unmet Basic Needs

Potential Negative

Environmental Consequences of


Other Critical Issues

Issues Consolidation Table

Organization Level Issues



Level Issues

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Topical Area

Recovery Issues

Organization Level Issues



Level Issues

Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex I Issues and Actions Table


Issues and Actions Table




Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines, Version 4.2 December 2003

Annex J REA Leader: Key Criteria

The person who is tasked to lead a REA in the field or headquarters setting should meet, to

the extent possible, the following criteria:

• Be knowledgeable of the geography, environment, social, economic, and political

conditions in the area where the assessment is to be conducted.

• Have experience in disaster relief and recovery operations.

• Have field experience in rapid disaster impact assessment.

• Be familiar with concepts and approaches needed to create a team assessment

effort and have demonstrated leadership capabilities and expertise.

• Have experience in rapid community-level assessment methods and procedures,

and, in particular, participatory methodologies. (A well-developed ability to listen

actively, to show compassion and understanding of the disaster survivors, and be

able to help assessment team members understand that these same abilities are


• Be able to dedicate a full time effort to the REA assessment, including time needed

to develop new project proposals and seek funding for them. (Note that a full standalone

assessment can require up to three weeks, and an additional dedicated week

to proposal writing and review may be required.)


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